Young family faces financial ruins as they try to protect their baby from Covid


Every second, they fear that when they try to keep their youngest child from the epidemic, they may lose their home and injure their other children. And it may still not be enough.

“Is it better to stay home or, as a result, end up in a homeless shelter where you are at higher risk?” Garcia told me about her 3-year-old child, Brandi.

The fear is not new to the young couple, as Brandi has extremely rare metabolic disorders that require round-the-clock care and make her vulnerable to any virus.

It’s a miracle. Most children who have the condition do not survive to one year of age.

But the epidemic made it even harder to keep him alive. Garcia and Lusk left their jobs in April to stay home to care for their children and reduce the chances of the coronavirus getting home.

They now have thousands of dollars in debt and will face eviction at the end of the month.

Brandi’s parents are like people with a vulnerable family member who have made huge sacrifices for months and months to protect her – and who have been watching for many weeks while Covid-19 continues to spread.

Brandi sits between Elijah and Isabella.  Their parents fear that it is not safe for either of them to play with friends.

But that’s hard to explain to Brandi’s brother, who can’t go to school safely or even be near other kids. The young friends hang out on the patio railings of their apartment and call Isabella (5) and Elijah (6) to come out to the playground next door. But it is too risky to say yes.

“We’re trying to explain to them,” Garcia, 29, said. “They’re like,‘ Well, I was good today. I didn’t do anything wrong. “Like I know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just … you can’t go outside.”

Brandins lack carnitine acylcarnitine translocase (CACT), a serious condition in which your body cannot use certain types of fats as an energy source. It needs to be fed through a tube in your stomach every few hours and is on a long list of expensive drugs.

Brandi, who is here in the intensive care unit as a baby, has already beaten expectations.

His body has almost no reserves to fight the virus.

“Any acute illness can be fatal to him,” said Dr. Luis Umana, an assistant professor of pediatric genetics and metabolism at Dallas Child Health, UT Southwestern.

“Covid is so contagious and so prevalent that it’s at the top of the list of things that it can easily contract,” said Umana, Brandi’s doctor. “For others, I mean you’re getting vaccinations now. We don’t have a vaccination for the coronavirus yet – at least it’s available.”

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According to Umana, less than 1 in 250,000 babies is born with a CACT deficiency, and it takes “overwhelming effort” to deal with it, even in normal times. “He’ll never really be out of the woods,” he said. “Something could go wrong at any time in his life, and it could be for him.”

Families like Brandi “can’t win” a situation during a pandemic, Umana noted. “They would have to take (the risk of working) or be unable to meet their basic needs.”

And while Umana believes Brandi could benefit from coronavirus vaccines, which are now seeking approval, Lusk and Garcia are hesitant to commit until they see how children with similar needs are affected.

Days until Christmas … and eviction

Garcia left his factory job in April, and Lusk left home health work at about the same time. The family receives $ 414 a month in unemployment benefits, plus a $ 305 food stamp. Medicaid helps pay for most of Brandi’s medications and treatments, as well as home nursing care, up to 16 hours a day.

Brandi’s extensive drug needs are mostly covered by Medicaid.

The family says they were about nine months behind on rents and $ 2,000 in arrears after utilities. The only reason their lights are still on is that Brandi has a medical condition that requires electricity from the feed pump. “I sold pretty much everything in my house to try to raise money, pay a bill, pay partial bills, and do whatever we can,” Lusk said (28).

The young couple is clearly anxious when they mention their children asking for Christmas. But they are only concentrating on another day in December – the last when they say they are worried about losing their home.

“We don’t even think about Christmas presents,” Garcia said. – We’re thinking of a place to live

“They won’t have Christmas,” Lusk added objectively. – They have nothing.

Isabella and Elijah can’t go to school or play with other kids, so they don’t risk Brandit being exposed to Covid-19.

Dallas County has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the past month, similar to other major Texas cities. The couple said they were looking for a job they could do at home, but they got short without a formal education.

Since there is no family who can support them financially or physically, they evict the greatest fear of Garcia and Lusk and move to a homeless shelter, and Brandi is sent back to the hospital where she can be treated. When Brandi was first born, her parents lived with her in the hospital for two months and barely saw their other two children.

Both Jessica Lusk and Dylan Garcia claim they had no choice but to stay home to protect their daughter.

“The last thing I want is for me to get back to this,” Garcia said.

“Or you can’t see, and then he’s in a coffin,” his mother added.

The couple said they are just trying to take it one day and pray that the virus will “go away.”

“The only hope we got is the fact that he’s still with us. He’s still here,” Garcia said. – We’re still with him.

Dylan Garcia and Jessica Lusk set fundraising page for donations to cover their meals, rents and bills. CNNs Impact on your world has resources to give help and find help at the time of the epidemic.