Baby Kari's Family Fund

Kari Arianna Arellano (Baby Girl Gerstner at the hospital) was born through emergency C-section at UNM Hospital on March 27, 2018.

She was intubated (had a breathing tube inserted) within 5 minutes, and placed on life support (ECMO) that evening.  Kari was so, so sick, but no one knew why. 

At several points during this ordeal we were told she was not going to survive.  Her illness has been a very long road for our family that has tapped our physical and emotional resources beyond their limits.

On April 13, Kari was flown from UNM Hopsital in Albuquerque to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora right next to Denver.

We thought it would be difficult driving back and forth between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  Now our daughter is in a different state.

Kari’s story is a long one.  Eilani is still working on writing the final, full version.  To make a very long story short, it turned out that the virus that caused all these problems is CMV, a highly contagious virus that gives normal children and adults virtually no symptoms, but can be devastating to a baby in the womb.  Even though it is such a common virus (80% of people have contracted it) Eilani had likely contracted CMV for the first time during her pregnancy with Kari, which is the rare case when CMV can wreak havoc for baby.  The doctors say Eilani and the family probably didn’t even feel sick – CMV is virtually symptom-free for kids and adults.

The biggest concern remains her brain. She has a shunt to relieve fluid build up and blood from when her brain bled on the ECMO life support machine.  The best we can do now is watch and pray.  She also has hearing loss caused by the CMV, and she’ll have hearing aids. 

The doctors expect her to have other disabilities due to the brain injury from the CMV and the fluid, but only time will tell which ones and how severe they will be. Babies’ brains are able to heal better than ours, so we’re praying for her to have the best possible outcome.

Kari is still trying to learn how to eat.  It's unclear if the difficulty learning how to eat is from being intubated for so long or from the brain injury or both.  She will need a feeding tube to come home.

The last couple months have taken a toll on us emotionally, financially, and physically. 

Ronald McDonald houses in the Denver area strictly only allow two children, so we have not been able to stay there. We have kept the family together on our trips because we saw the negative effects on the kids (Emma, 6, Little Joe, 3, and Liam, 2) of being split up that first week we were in the hospital. We’ve done lots of research and found it is still less expensive to stay at a hotel only when we go up rather than get a monthly rate or rent a furnished apartment. But it is still expensive for our family.

We will use funds raised by the GoFundMe to help with expenses related to Kari's care and helping the family to be with her.  Such expenses include gas, tires on the Suburban, extra oil changes due to putting thousands of miles on the car every month, hotel, food while traveling, and even childcare costs for our other three children when we have to attend to Kari's appointments.  We have expenses already incurred that have put our finances out of control, and we will have future expenses after Kari comes home.  Much of her care will be in Albuquerque at UNM, and we will still need to return to Children’s Hospital Colorado for some care.

Any funds remaining would be used to start an investment account for Kari for future medical or educational needs.
  • Suzan Sattell 
    • $46 
    • 25 mos
  • Cheryl Haskin 
    • $100 
    • 25 mos
  • Mary Falk 
    • $500 
    • 25 mos
  • Cecilia Stewart 
    • $75 
    • 25 mos
  • Nobel Davis 
    • $200 
    • 25 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Joe Arellano 
Santa Fe, NM
Immanuel Gerstner 
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more