New Chews For Cruz

Help take a Bite out of the cost of Cruz's teeth implants!

We would greatly appreciate if you choose to spend a few moments of your time to learn the story of our beloved brother and son Cruz.  He is 31 years old, and has Downs Syndrome, as well as Klienfelter's Syndrome.  Cruz started having seizures around the age of 5, and was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy.  He has been prescribed numerous medications over the years, in various combinations, none of which have been able to curtail his seizures.  When he was young, a major trigger for Cruz's seizures was when he would get startled.  During these events, his arms would tighten up and pin behind his back, making it impossible for him to break his fall, even remotely.  Not surprisingly, these falls left him extremely vulnerable to injury.  Quite often, this included injury to is mouth/teeth, and on many instances the complete loss of a tooth or teeth.

Eventually, his doctors were able to get these startle induced seizures under control; unfortunately, around this time, he began having more seizures at night, specifically as he would slip into deep sleep.  This has been extremely difficult for Cruz, as these seizures make it impossible to get adequate sleep on a nightly basis.  Additionally, the effects of his medications make him drowsy, off balance and dizzy.  All of these factors lead Cruz to fall asleep often during the day.  As drifting off to sleep is the main trigger to his seizures now, one can see how vicious this cycle has become.  Hopefully, this has given some insight into how things have come to be, and challenges Cruz confronts each and every day.  Despite this, Cruz proves daily how enormous his heart is, and his perseverance is truly an inspiration.

Over the years, Cruz has had several teeth removed due to these injuries, infections and decay.  When Cruz was younger, his doctors had advised that the best, and truly only, option would be to replace his missing/damaged teeth with implants.  The plan was to wait until he got older; the idea being that it would be necessary for Cruz to finish growing before undergoing this procedure.  Ideally, the procedure would be performed at the Mayo Clinic, as he has been a life-long patient, and his care team knows him well.  Due to the severity of his seizures, dentures would not be a feasible option, as they would present a life-threatening choking hazard.  Unfortunately, when exploring these alternatives with his insurance company, we were informed that implants would not be covered.  Cruz's case worker wrote a letter on his behalf in hopes of clarifying the need for implants; however, this has been to no avail.

As it stands, Cruz finds it very difficult, and painful, to chew all but the softest foods.  Many of Cruz's favorite foods are simply not an option at this point.  It is truly heartbreaking that he cannot enjoy mealtime as he once did, which many of us take for granted.  Intellectually, Cruz is unable to grasp why he doesn't have teeth anymore, and why eating often causes him so much pain.  This has truly affected his quality of life, and it is astonishing how brave he has been.  Due to his conditions, Cruz requires 24/7 supervision, so his mother has sacrificed greatly in order to provide him with the best care throughout his life.  This has included selling her business, and greatly limiting her income opportunities.  Additionally, Cruz has been prescribed medical cannabis to help control his seizures, which has helped markedly.  However, this payment is made out of pocket. as cannabis is also not covered by insurance.  This financial strain has made paying for teeth implants directly an unrealistic option.

It is not in our nature to ask for help, however, his family and friends have run out of tangible ideas.  Those who have met Cruz know how special he is, and that he deserves better.  We hope that after reading Cruz's story, you can find it in your hearts to help make this procedure a reality for Cruz.  Any amount at all would mean the world to us.  Again, we appreciate your time.  God Bless.


  • Geoffrey Thompson
    • $100 
    • 6 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Emily Gunderson
Rochester, MN
Kim Johnson

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