A series of unfortunate events – a flooded house, a rental shortage and a global pandemic – have combined to make life especially challenging for the family of a nine-month-old White Rock boy who was born with a rare, life-threatening disorder.
Riley Stevens was born with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia), which is a hole in a baby’s diaphragm that allows organs to migrate into the chest while the baby is still developing. As a result, it causes the child’s heart and lungs to be smaller and less viable.
Babies born with CDH are immediately put on a machine to keep them stable until they’re OK’d for surgery; only half of babies born with the condition survive.
Riley spent the first six months of his life in hospital, hooked up to a feeding tube and a machine to assist with his breathing. Eventually, however, he grew strong enough to come home.
His mother, Courtney, calls him her “sweet miracle baby.”
But recently, a flood at the Stevens’ home caused by an exploding toilet tank forced them to move out.
As a result of water damage parts of the home are now starting to mold – furniture and toys were also damaged – and living with mold isn’t safe for a baby with severe health problems.
Courtney’s sister has set up a GoFundMe campaign for the family, in hopes of helping them with moving and living expenses, as Riley and his parents have been staying in a hotel while they search for a new place to live.
The campaign (https://ca.gofundme.com/f/help-riley-have-a-safe-home-cdh-warrior) was created earlier this week and has a goal of raising $5,000.
“It’s also extremely difficult to care for Riley’s extensive medical needs (while) crammed into a small hotel room and living out of suitcases, ” Courtney told Peace Arch News Friday.
“We have been desperately searching for somewhere to live but the rental market hardly exists – or it’s extremely expensive for a family with only one working income.”
Because of Riley’s medical needs he cannot attend daycare, which precludes Courtney from working as she stays home to care for him.
“We are still staying in a hotel but as you can imagine… we are quickly running out of money,” she said.
This weekend, however, the family will be temporarily relocating to Courtney’s mother’s home in Mission. However, the move means they will have to find temporary homes for their two cats, which cannot stay at her mother’s house due to allergy concerns.
So far, Courtney said, the only people who have reached out to help them – aside from family – are “scam artists trying to take advantage of desperate families.”
“This is all very hard on our family. (Riley) has only enjoyed two of his nine months of life in his own home. The rest of the time has been back and forth between hospitals and now hotels,” she said.
“He has been through so much already in his short life, and we just want a safe, comfortable place to call home.”