Born with chronic kidney disease, seven-year-old Josiah spent the first month of his life in the hospital NICU and endured multiple procedures, surgeries, and urologist visits all before the age of five. Josiah received all of his treatments at UVA Children’s Hospital located in Charlottesville, VA, 45 minutes from his family’s home in Harrisonburg, VA.
At age five, Josiah’s left kidney function began to deteriorate quickly. At the recommendation of his doctors, Josiah was scheduled to undergo a Nephrectomy to remove his left kidney. In the days leading up to the surgery, his right kidney began to swell significantly. The surgery was put on hold. After attempts by his urologist, a conclusion could not be reached. He began receiving iron IV infusions and was placed on a number of medications with the ultimate goal of receiving a kidney transplant. Then, his family learned that their insurance would not cover the transplant at UVA Children’s Hospital. Disheartened, they began researching hospitals where the surgery would be covered and discovered Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
“We didn’t know it at the time, but this would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. One of Josiah’s original doctors from when he was a baby had relocated to this hospital and we were relieved to know someone would be familiar with his situation,” says Josiah’s father, Manuel Castro.
Josiah’s family took a trip to Richmond to meet with a Nephrologist who made a remarkable discovery. Josiah’s bladder was the cause of his decline in kidney function but unfortunately, the discovery was too late to remedy the issues with his kidney. Josiah would still need a kidney transplant.
Josiah was scheduled for a surgery in Richmond in November 2018 to correct his bladder. After years of being a 45-minute drive from the hospital, his family found themselves in a new situation because this hospital was a 2-hour-drive from their home.
“Josiah’s social worker and nurses told us about the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms located within the walls of the hospital. They arranged for our family to have a room during Josiah’s surgery and recovery process. The private room had a comfortable bed and bathroom where my wife and I could take turns getting rest or showering footsteps from Josiah’s hospital bedside,” shared Manuel.
The bladder surgery moved Josiah one step closer to a kidney transplant. In January 2019, another patient’s family was featured by a local news station to talk about the need for a kidney donation. It sparked attention and numerous selfless people came forward to get tested for donating a kidney. One gentleman who came forward did not match the family featured in the story but turned out to be a perfect match for Josiah.
In March 2019, Josiah and his family returned to Richmond for the moment they had been waiting for – his kidney transplant. Once again, arrangements were made for the family to have overnight accommodations within the Ronald McDonald Family Room within the walls of the hospital.
“Never having to leave the hospital was the best. We were able to get needed rest for ourselves but still be close to Josiah.”
After a successful kidney transplant, Josiah is full of life now. Nothing slows him down anymore. He loves baseball and basketball and spending time at the pool. He enjoys sleepovers at his grandma’s house and was excited to begin enjoying his favorite foods again this summer.
“His journey is not done, but our family feels incredibly blessed and our hearts are so full knowing we have received so much support along the way.”