Vol. 4, 2016-2017
Have you ever seen an angel? If you haven’t let me share with you what I saw and experienced with the angel I met…
First of all the angel was a cherub with a very round face decorated with a beautiful smile. The round face is due to the angel being inundated in steroids to allow him to breathe through lungs terribly damaged by side effects of life saving bone marrow infusions. My Angel is wheelchair bound and has retarded growth as a result of the numerous and merciless assaults to his body by an endless list of medical issues. Angel Gabriel Esparza, was born a healthy normal child, albeit, slightly premature. At seven months his parents began to notice numerous infections, frequent bruising, and extreme fatigue. After being examinedby several pediatricspecialists Angel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
At this most desperate time another courageous angel appeared, and saved his life. His three year old sister, Briana, demonstrating maturity far beyond her years, volunteered to be a “bone marrow donor” which resolved the life threatening AML. Five months later this horrid disease reappeared and once again, then, four year old Briana, stepped forward and donated her life saving bone marrow, which, once again resolved the AML and saved her brother’s life!
As of this writing I am pleased to report that Angel has not re-experienced the scourge of AML. However, an artifact of the bone marrow grafts gave rise to a malady, Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), Angel experienced a severe rash covering his entire body which eventually entered his lungs, scaring them severely . As a result of this Angel now needs a double lung transplant!
Words are an inadequate vehicle to describe the hardships placed on the entire family due to Angel’s life threatening challenge. His parents, Mario and Marie, his siblings, four year old Fabian, and eleven year old Briana, havegiven of themselves and sacrificed a great deal to support Angel through his journey to being a healthy child.The Esparza family has found it necessary to move their home three times. Additionally Numerous family separations have also occurred soMario could continue to support the family, while Angel receives his desperately needed treatment in Houston, TX. It goes without saying the financial burden has been crippling.
In August, 2018, Sir Knight Rudy Fuentes, Treasurer for Knights of Columbus, Council 12160, St. Luke Catholic Church, El Paso, Texas, introduced our Council (12160) to the Esparza family. As their story unfolded we voted unanimously to support the Esparzas with money and prayers. Subsequent to meeting the parents, Mario and Marie, we had the opportunity to meet Angel.
Two of our Sir Knights, Ronald Beckett and Wally Piatek appeared at the meeting in full Forth Degree regalia to meet Angel. As is always the case Angel was “all smiles” demonstrating courage, and a very positive attitude... For a nine year old he has a lot of maturity and acceptance of his uncertain medical condition. (See photos).
Although Angel was not aware, Council 12160 surprised him with a child’s wheelchair that was desperately needed to allow him more mobility and freedom of movement. He received one of the first wheel chairs from the pallet of chairs purchased by the Knights of Columbus of the El Paso Diocese (SK Joe Grillo, Diocesan Deputy).
Can you imagine being told that you need a double lung transplant?! Angel’s response was to go out and collect $150.00 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research! If unparalleled courage and positive attitude have anything to do with his prognosis Angel will defeat the medical demons that have tortured him his entire young life. His family also demonstrates an incredible courage, and enduring positive attitude in support of their fragile precious Angel.
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