LOMA LINDA, Calif.- - From the day James Lee Meredith was born, he faced numbers thoroughly stacked against him. Sweet Baby James came into the world at Loma Linda Hospital in September, and shortly afterward was diagnosed with omphalocele and cloacal exstrophy, a birth defect that only affects 1 in 500,000 newborns. His condition leaves his abdominal organs exposed and caused him to develop a split pelvis and tethered spine.
At 3 days old, Sweet Baby James underwent his first surgery, a procedure to attach his intestine to an ostomy bag. For the first 6 weeks of his life, he remained in the Loma Linda's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). On his four-month birthday, underwent a 15-hour long operation, with a team of doctors flown in from around the world to assist. He remains in a full body cast and, after contracting a virus in the hospital, in isolation at LLUCH.
Father Mike Meredith told KESQ News Channel 3's and CBS Local 2's Katie Widner that the family has spent their live savings on travel and care, since the diagnosis.
Friends of the family have set up a fundraising page to show support for the Cathedral City family, and help them with their steep medical expenses.
"These surgeries require weeks (maybe months) of staying in Loma Linda. Baby James' dad, Mike will have to be off work again or traveling back and forth to be by his side," the page reads. "Baby James will need years of care and surgeries. The costs for medical supplies is astronomical and only a small portion is covered by insurance."
The campaign page was created by Joy Brown Meredith and signed by "Grandma Joy." At the time of this publication, $14,646 had been raised toward the $50,000 goal with the help of 241 donors.
For more on this story, tune in to CBS Local 2 at 5:30 p.m for Katie Widner's full report.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15