LWB Community Blog

Keegan’s Second Chance

LWB was founded in 2003 because of an effort of strangers around the world trying to provide a baby with the heart surgery he needed to survive.  Since then LWB has helped thousands of children receive the life-saving surgery or care they need.

I have been privileged to work in LWB’s Medical Program for almost 10 years now and it has been an amazing, humbling and sometimes heart wrenching experience.  Each and every child has an impact on me, and each one is special for different reasons.  But, every now and then, you come across a child who touches your heart just a little bit more, especially when their story personally connects you to them in some way.  Recently, for me, Keegan has become that extra-special someone.

Keegan is 16 years old and from a very impoverished area in Cambodia.  He has been sick for a while and was only recently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  Keegan’s case was quite extreme because the leukemia had even affected his eyes, causing them to protrude from the sockets.  He was very weak and ill.  Keegan’s family was told by several doctors he would certainly die and that there wasn’t any hope.

In the recent past, I have had 2 family members diagnosed with leukemia.  One had ALL, like Keegan, and was diagnosed at age 12.  My other family member has a different type of leukemia (acute myeloid leukemia—AML) and was diagnosed at age 3.  While I wasn’t directly involved with the care or hospitalizations of either of my family members, I did get to witness the process of their treatment. Seeing the vast difference between Keegan’s case and those of my family members reminded me once again that often where you live can determine IF you live.

For both of my family members, their leukemia was discovered relatively early and treatment was started immediately.  Keegan had been ill for some time before he was ever brought to LWB’s attention.

My family members both received top-level care at wonderful pediatric hospitals within a reasonable distance from their homes.  Keegan’s family is very poor and couldn’t afford even the most basic medical care.  He also lives in an area where even getting an x-ray is a challenge, so accurate diagnosis and treatment of his leukemia was all but impossible.

My family members have been supported by family, friends, their churches and their communities.  Keegan’s entire community is impoverished, so financially there just weren’t any options for him to receive the care he so desperately needed.

The disparity between these patients is tremendous, and, as a mom, my heart breaks for families whose children’s lives are limited because of a lack of medical care.

Thankfully, Keegan’s story is now a true story of hope thanks to LWB’s Medical Fund and the hard work and determination of LWB’s Cambodia Director to find a doctor who could treat Keegan.  Keegan was moved eight hours away from his village to Phnom Penh, where he finally got an accurate diagnosis and the chance to be healed. This will not be an easy road for this young teen, as he will need to make the trip between his hometown and Phnom Penh multiple times over the next two years. He will need a steady treatment of strong chemotherapy to have a chance at survival. After only a few days of chemotherapy, however, his eyes have returned to normal size and his vision is beginning to be restored!

There have been great advances in the treatment of leukemia and the rate of survivability continues to increase.

This is news that offers families like Keegan’s and mine the best medicine possible…HOPE.

Kate Finco, Managing Director of Medical Services

If you would like to be part of Keegan’s story of healing, you can visit his sponsorship page here.


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