#LifeForEzra: Fort Mill Family Needs Assistance

On April 5th, 2019 at 4:05pm, Crystal and Michael Rodriguez welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world. They named him Ezra. Michael and Crystal expected for the birth to go smoothly and for the family to return home so they could embark on the journey of parenthood together. Unfortunately, they are still awaiting their happily ever after.

Ezra was born jaundice and was in need of oxygen. Additionally, his ammonia levels were elevated, he possessed weak muscle tone (hypotonia), and had no gag reflex--meaning he had to be fed through a feeding tube.  

Ezra spent his first month of life in the NICU. He was transported from CMC Pineville to Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte to receive more in-depth care. Genetics ran several test searching for any genetic disorders and syndromes and every test came back negative. After finally retaining the ability to feed through a bottle, Ezra was cleared for release from NICU.

Soon after, Ezra started to show symptoms of sleepiness and fussiness with abnormally loud crying. Crystal began to notice Ezra’s head had been growing a little faster than normal for his age. Together, Crystal and Michael decided to take him back to Levine Children's Hospital.

After running tests and ultrasounds Ezra was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (which means when there is too much fluid inside or around the brain) and found that his ammonia level was elevated to 78 (high). As a result, Ezra needed surgery the very next day to get a shunt placement. A shunt is a device that allows the pressure in the brain to normalize by draining the fluid into the abdominal cavity, where the fluid can be reabsorbed. By placing this shunt, the pressure in the brain is decreased. The goal of placing this shunt is to allow for normal brain development. Children with ventricular shunts are followed closely by neurosurgical team throughout their childhood. 

After being cleared to go home, Crystal and Michael found themselves back at Levine Children's Hospital for the third time.  Ezra was screaming and crying as if he was in pain and they noticed swelling in the scrotal area.

While in the ER, Ezra was poked several times by doctors and nurses. They had a hard time finding a vein to start an IV so that resulted with Ezra getting a intraosseous infusion in his knee. This is the process of injecting directly into the marrow of a bone. This provides a non-collapsible entry point into the systemic venous system. This technique is used to provide fluids and medication when intravenous access is not available or feasible. Crystal and Michael looked on helplessly from the sidelines as Ezra screamed in pain. They describe the witnessing of this process as "torture."

Later, Crystal and Michael find out that Ezra has an elevated white blood cell count. This means that in addition to all his other ailments, Ezra also has an infection somewhere in his body. Shortly thereafter, the knee which fostered the IO started to swell and doctors had to remove the infusion immediately.

Later that night Ezra was poked several more times until they finally found a vein in his ankle. They are currently running urine and blood tests to find what the infection is and where it is coming from.

Ezra is expected to undergo a second surgery after being diagnosed with communicating hydrocele. A communicating hydrocele is a hydrocele that has an opening referred to as a “communication” into the abdominal cavity. The opening allows abdominal fluid to pass into the scrotum. This is what caused his scrotal swelling. A hydrocele typically isn't dangerous and usually doesn't affect fertility, but a hydrocele might be associated with an underlying testicular condition that can cause serious complications, including infection or tumor.

This is where you come in. These obstacles are ones that Crystal and Michael never saw coming. The young couple are new homeowners and as you have probably gathered, they are new to parenthood as well. The hospital bills they are incurring are immense, and having to miss work to be with Ezra is putting their household and livelihoods at risk.

As he awaits surgery, Ezra will be seeing a speech therapist to make sure he is doing well with feeding and physical therapy once a week to help with the hypotonia. Despite his circumstances and all the pain he has had to endure since birth, Ezra is a fighter and warrior. He inspires his parents and the rest of his family and believe he will have quite the testimony to share with the world one day.  With your financial assistance, your prayer, and your sharing of our story, you can help us make a new #LifeForEzra.

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Organizer and beneficiary

Evan Santiago 
Fort Mill, SC
Crystal Rodriguez 
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