NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two boys born thousands of miles apart have found that they both have a rare birth defect.
One, in Westchester County, had life-saving surgery, but the other, in the Philippines, could not.
Now, a mom from New Rochelle is on a mission to change that, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Wednesday.
The greeting cards came pouring in when 8-year-old Garrett Navin needed major surgery. He has a rare birth defect called bladder exstrophy, one of about 40,000 born with it.
“The easy answer is he’s born with his bladder outside of the body,” mother Rhiannon Navin said.
“I’ve had to go to the hospital like over 10 times,” Garrett said.
And until his most recent surgery last year at John Hopkins Children’s Center in Maryland, he had to wear diapers. These days, Garrett is self-sufficient, using a catheter to go to the bathroom and he can play sports. He is considered lucky.
But through a Facebook support group, Garrett’s mom said she was touched by a post from a dad in the Philippines who asked for prayers for his son, John Carlos Vega, known affectionately as J.C.
“He has not been able to have any of the surgeries that are required to fix this birth defect,” Rhiannon said. “And so he’s 10 years old, his bladder is still on the outside of his body and that leads to constant infections, constant pain. He can barely walk.”
Due to the a high risk for bladder cancer J.C. faces, Garrett’s doctor at John Hopkins Children’s Center has agreed to do the surgery pro bono.
“It’s a major surgery. It lasts about eight hours,” Dr. John P. Gearhart said.
But what’s not covered are the costs for the hospital stay, which are estimated to be $100,000. Rhiannon is fundraising online.
“I want to play sports like my brothers and my friends,” J.C. said.
Because the greeting card campaign was such a success for Garrett, Rhiannon said she’s planning on renaming the Facebook page for J.C, so he can get just as much love.
“I want him to get better, too, like me,” Garrett said.
Garrett’s mom has already arranged a medical flight with a Filipino airline. She’s planning to personally pick J.C. and his father up in New York and drive them to Maryland next month — a commitment to a stranger, as if he was family.
If you would like to help Garrett and his mom with their fundraising mission, please click here.