Miracle Child

Mateo Guerrero
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Imagine the arrival of your baby boy. You’ve waited nine months to see his sweet face and hold him in your arms. Within hours of birth, he becomes ill and has to be rushed into an emergency surgery. Instead of spending the next few months at home, bonding with your baby, you’re spending the next 71 days visiting your child in the neonatal intensive care unit.

That’s what happened to Kayla and Carlos Guerrero when their son, Mateo, was born in 2008. Mateo was diagnosed with Total Colonic Hirschsprung’s Disease (HD), a rare congenital condition occurring in only 1 in 5,000 births. When he began vomiting shortly after birth, an x-ray showed a blockage in his bowel. Only one day old, Mateo had an ileostomy, a procedure to bypass part of the intestines, allowing waste to be eliminated through an external bag.

Even with insurance, Mateo’s medical expenses are astronomical. Kayla and Carlos are grateful to the hospital staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center who cared for their son, and especially thankful for the Children’s Miracle Network, whose support of Sacred Heart helped purchase the neonatal ambulance that rushed Mateo to a different hospital for an emergency surgery.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals treat 16,000 children in emergency rooms every year. Whether they have been diagnosed with cancer, were born with a genetic disease or have suffered a traumatic injury, Children’s Miracle Network is there to support families through trying times.  The organization has raised more than $5 billion since 1983, much of it a dollar at a time through fundraisers such as Miracle Jeans Day.

Miracle Jeans Day is an annual nationwide campaign happening Sept. 14 where staff at participating organizations will trade their professional attire for one day in exchange for a $5 donation from each participating employee. Oregon Community Credit Union will be participating and will be paying the donation on behalf of its employees. The Children’s Miracle Network is dear to the hearts of OCCU employees because they get to see miracles made right before their eyes. Kayla is not just Mateo’s mom; she is also a colleague at OCCU.

“It is definitely a blessing for me to have everything come full circle,” she says. “I have understanding and support at work when Mateo is sick and I need to take leave, but I’m also able to volunteer for the Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon as an OCCU employee. I am grateful for the opportunity to work for a company that gives back to a program that’s so near and dear to me.”

While a $5 donation may not seem like much, it makes a huge impact when multiplied by the number of participating organizations. Miracle Jeans Day has raised more than $4 million since it began in 2009. 

Guerrero says her family still receives constant support from Children’s Miracle Network. Mateo is frequently admitted to the pediatric unit at Sacred Heart at RiverBend with dehydration and belly pain. Children’s Miracle Network provides entertainment during his stay in the hospital and prizes after difficult procedures to offer comfort in challenging situations. Sometimes Mateo is only allowed liquids when he’s in the hospital, and the Children’s Miracle Network can be counted on to show up with his favorite popsicles. It’s a small gesture that makes a big difference in helping Mateo feel cared for.  

This year, Mateo starts second grade. While he still has an ileostomy, he has been without a feeding tube since 2012. His mother says that he is defying the odds. He is above average for height and weight and is surpassing many of the milestones that the doctors feared he might never reach. Now that’s a miracle worth celebrating!