Bebe and her husband Richard and their three children, Jordan, Aric and Alec, of Brunswick Hills, Ohio, were an excellent fit for Kat in many ways. The Paines were ready for this new challenge, and Kat, only 3 years old, needed a happy, loving family to help her endure the surgeries that lay ahead of her. She also needed the medical expertise found at the Cleveland Clinic.
Kat has only one kidney, and when she arrived in Cleveland from Guatemala she also had an obstruction that prevented her from urinating normally. Her kidney emptied through a nephrostomy tube into an ostomy bag. It’s not difficult to imagine how inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unpleasant this arrangement was for a 3-year-old. In addition, there was a constant risk of infection. Dr. Jonathan Ross – a pediatric urologist who saw Kat in Guatemala while there on an HTC medical team trip and convinced her mother to let her come to the U.S.- removed the obstruction and used stents to repair Kat’s urinary tract. After 6 surgical procedures, she can now use the bathroom the way other little girls do, and because there is no longer a tube in her kidney, her mother allows her to run and play with the rest of the family.
Bebe says, “As Kat’s time here progressed, so did everyone’s love for her. Several articles were written about her, and she even landed a spot on the local news. She was a celebrity, and people recognized her everywhere we went.” The family’s bond grew stronger, too. As Bebe says, “Any parent who’s had a sick child knows that when
you hold her hand or get her ready for an IV there is a heart-to-heart bond that can’t be put into words.”
She continues, “We signed on as a host family to make a difference in a child’s life. But Kat made such a difference in our lives! Watching her come out of her shell, seeing her heal before our very eyes, speaking on the phone with Kat and her mom every week, as I do now—we never expected that. All the selfless people we’ve met along the way of this wonderful journey have made it a very unexpected blessing and honor.”
Changing Kat’s world
If you are a follower of Healing the Children and its adventures, you won’t be surprised to learn that the story of Katerina Sharon Ramirez’s healing began with a moment of sorrow and anxiety and culminated in a network of friendship and faith that extends from Ohio to Guatemala.
“My brother had died recently
and I was wondering what this world was all about,” says Bebe Paine. Then I
saw a story about Healing the Children on “Oprah.”
I contacted them immediately, and before I knew it we were host parents. Kat was meant to be with us; she and I even share the same birthday.”