Five years ago, a couple from Pansy, MB took their first steps to growing their family, when they boarded a plane for eastern Europe. Little did they know that just three years later they'd return to the little Ukrainian orphanage and claim eight more children as their own.
Rob and Sharon Steeves made their first trip to the Ukraine in 2016. It was then that they adopted their first three children. However, after seeing the friends their children were leaving behind, the couple knew they would be making another visit to the orphanage, which is what they did in 2019. Growing their family by another 8 children, all from one family. Their lives would be forever changed.
Sharon says that immediately after they had finished the required quarantine period after returning from the Ukraine with 8 newly adopted children, they had blood work done on all the kids. It was here that the doctors realized that their 11 yr old daughter, Fallon was very sick,
“In the middle of May 2020, we got a phone call to take Fallon into the P.I.C.U. which is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Health Science Centre. She immediately had surgery to have a catheter put in her neck so she could have dialysis at the hospital. Her blood results were pretty awful. She was is End-stage kidney failure, which none of us knew.”
Then, during their 5 weeks stay at the HSC last year, Fallon nearly died with Sepsis. Steeves says, Fallon got an infection in her hemodialysis line. “We weren't sure if she would make it or not. But thankfully she recovered and now we are home. We got home in June and Rob and I do dialysis with her every single night for 10 hours.”
For many, being hooked up to a machine for 10 hours doesn’t sound very productive, but the Steeves discovered that it was best to do the dialysis while Fallon was sleeping.
“We hook her up about 8:30 at night. Now she has Peritoneal Dialysis. I think the type that they have to go to Winnipeg is Hemodialysis. Which does the same job but the Peritoneal Dialysis means that fluid goes into her abdominal cavity. It sits there for about 40 minutes and it's drained off again. So she gets about 20 liters of fluid pumped into her abdominal cavity 10 cycles during the night, total amount is almost 20 liters.”
While Fallon’s health has been a challenge, it’s the cost of the medications that is starting to take its toll on the family budget,
“Fallon takes 17 pills a day and she's only 12 years old. That's a lot for a little girl. Up till I think about a month ago she was taking 23 pills a day, but her Nephrologist has cut back on some of those meds which is, uh, which is fantastic. But those pills that she takes are very expensive.”
Sharon says that Fallon was on a kidney transplant list, but then needed to be taken off because she took a COVID vaccine. Then she was put back on the list again, however an hour later she was taken off because her hemoglobin was still too low. “But we hope to have her back on the list. Uhm, in about 2 weeks' time.”
Sharon says though Fallon’s medication is very costly, each of the other children have their own expenses,
“We also have Connor, from our first adoption. He's on 2 medications for ADHD and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Patrick, our baby, he is now 7, he has ADHD, Global Developmental Delay and he's waiting to be seen by the FASD clinic. He's on medication as well for behavior issues and to calm his mind because he finds it very difficult to focus.”
On a GoFundMe page set up for the Steeves family, it also mentions 8 year old Meara, who needs an aortic valve replaced by age 13.
All these medications are starting to add up for the Steeves family budget. Sharon says they currently pay over $500 every month in medication alone and that even with their personal insurance, they can’t keep up and are now paying the full amount for the much-needed medicine for their children.