The Callenders

Augustus Edison Callender was born August 10, 2009. His parents, Luke and Dominee, knew of the hole in his heart as he grew in the womb. Gus has Velo-cardio-facial syndrome, what they call VCFS, which is a rare genetic condition related to DiGeorge syndrome that has varying conditions present in each individual with the syndrome. Common conditions are heart defects, effects on facial appearance, and lack of or underdeveloped thymus and parathyroid glands.


The Callender family has been through a lot over the past five years. Gus had open heart surgery to replace a valve, minor surgery for a feeding tube (G-tube) since he had complications aspirating liquids he drank, palate surgery to help him speak, and occupational, physical and speech therapy. Recently, Luke and Dominee found out that Gus needs surgery on his teeth, immediately. The surgery will consist of several crowns being put in and possibly the removal of three-five teeth. VCSF kids have issues with weak or non-existent tooth enamel, decay and nerves forming in their teeth. The surgery is a concern since Gus will have to be put under for a long period of time. Since he has heart issues, anesthesia is a part of the procedure that will have to be closely monitored. There is more in store for young Gus; at least two more open heart surgeries as he ages, along with therapy, home schooling and the other bumps that are sure to arise along the road.

Luke, the assistant Chaplain at the county jail and a second year seminary student, has had two brain tumors removed and a concentrated radiation treatment to try and kill the cells which cause the tumors in his brain to grow. The first tumor was removed in 2004. The tumor, a benign meningioma, grew back and was removed in 2010. The Gamma Knife Radiation treatment took place in February of 2012, and Luke has a scheduled MRI every year to ensure there is no new growth.

(Luke and Rufus)

Rufus Llewellyn, the Callender’s second son, was born in August of 2012; he is a happy, healthy and rambunctious little boy (taking after his father). Dominee is currently pregnant with their third child, Virgil Emerson, who they are expecting in December of this year.

(Dom with baby Virgil, can't wait to meet you!)

The Callenders are a wonderful, down-to-earth Christian family. Throughout the constant waves of trials and tribulations, they have struggled well and trusted in Jesus Christ. As husband and wife, and as parents, they have been humbled and sharpened through each obstacle that has presented itself in their family.

We are putting this support fund together to help them. Right now, the dental surgery for Gus is a serious issue of high priority they need to tend to. The surgery will take place at Medical City in Dallas in the coming weeks with a host of doctors for Gus; a cardiologist, anesthesiologist, pediatric surgeon (who is out of their insurance network), and will require a stay at the hospital and days away from work for Luke.

The family is on constant payment plans for the many surgeries Gus has needed and the medical treatment necessary for Luke’s brain tumors. And the path ahead of them is long; there is no end in sight. We know Gus will need two more open heart surgeries as he grows and the valves in his heart will need to be replaced. With VCFS, there is a myriad of complications that can arise at every stage of development; the current dental surgery, while very serious and necessary, is just one of many obstacles Gus is going to come up against.

(Gus's first open heart surgery)

Luke and Dominee are strong believers who trust in the King of kings and have experienced His unmerited grace in the many breakthroughs they have seen with Gus. Gus was born into a broken world and has had a broken body since the day he breathed his first breath, and the Callenders sit under the sovereign will of the Creator everyday as the raise their sons. We are reaching out to, and leaning on, the community now to help the Callender family as they walk in joy as they raise their growing family.

Today, we are in prayer for the upcoming dental surgery for Gus – asking our King for stability with his fragile body as he goes under and for discernment and skill with the doctors who will be operating on him. We are praying for Gus, that he will recuperate and recover well from the surgery, for Virgil as he grows and is expected in December, and for Luke’s next MRI to check the status of his brain after the Gamma Knife Radiation.

Any amount given to help this family will be received with humble hearts, great appreciation and loving gratitude for the provision and aid that will alleviate their burden. Please consider being a part of this family’s story and ongoing testimony.
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Lindsey Callender 
Denton, TX
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