Karis Gardner, a 2-year-old from Commerce, Georgia, is receiving dialysis treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Back at home in Jackson County, her community is rallying around her.
The usually lively, sassy girl was diagnosed with E. coli, a bacterial infection, and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal complication that damages the kidneys. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5 to 10% of people infected with E. coli will develop HUS.
In four days, 77 people have donated $4,346 to the Facebook campaign #Karisstrong. Karis’s mom, Hope Gardner, says the money will go toward Karis’s medical bills and childcare for her siblings, who are at home in Commerce.
A friend of the family, Amber Ochle Evans, set up the fundraiser on behalf of the family, with donations going directly into the Gardner’s bank account, according to the Facebook donation page.
“It was a surprise because we weren’t expecting anything, but it’s a blessing,” Hope says.
She says some of the donations came from all the way from Alabama and Pennsylvania, where she and her husband, Adam, are from.
It was just amazing how many people came together—some that we don’t even know—giving to this fund to help our family out,” Hope Gardner says.
Hope says the love and faith surrounding their family is also helping them through the tough time.
“That was more important than anything, just the outpouring of prayers and lifting our little girl up to the Lord that she will have a complete healing…it was just amazing how many people came together—some that we don’t even know—giving to this fund to help our family out,” Hope says.
Karis’s symptoms started on Oct. 20 and continued to get worse until she was diagnosed with HUS at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and was then taken by ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“We started dialysis because she does have acute kidney failure, so she’s on dialysis three times a week now,” Hope says. “She did have to have a blood transfusion. These are our days now until her kidneys can start functioning on their own. She hasn’t had any kind of urine output for days, so her kidneys just aren’t working.”
Her family doesn’t know where the infection initially came from, but Hope encourages people to wash their hands to prevent the spread of bacteria like E. coli that caused her daughter’s illness.
Karis has to remain in confinement because of the E. coli infection, which means she’ll be celebrating Halloween in her hospital room.
“She’s going to dress up tomorrow as Elsa, and we’ll just put it on her in bed and maybe do something Halloween related for her here.”
Hope says Karis’s outlook is good, but there’s a possibility she may need dialysis treatments in the future, but she says the family will continue to “cling to their faith” and remain hopeful.
Bailey Walker is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a certificate in applied politics.
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