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Belcourt Family Faced With Harsh Reality of COVID-19

Local News

The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in some way, and one North Dakota family that’s felt the harsh impact of the virus refuses to give up.

“So on March 20, we went to the hospital and we thought he was just sick,” Sara LaVallie said.

But tests taken at Trinity Health in Minot revealed there was more to it. John Wanapi, Sara LaVallie’s 11-year-old brother who she’s taken full custody of, was diagnosed with Acute Renal Failure, which means his kidneys couldn’t filter waste from his blood.

“They said that they couldn’t deal with an 11-year-old on dialysis, so they sent us to Minneapolis,” LaVallie said.

An eight and a half hour trip later to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, John, Sara and her husband were met with the reality of COVID-19.

“We had a lot of restrictions. We always had to wear a mask, even in our room with him, just because he’s more immune to it now because he’s sick. Some nights we couldn’t even be with him, so we have had to keep him in a bubble,” LaVallie said.

But that’s not all they’ve had to deal with.

“The first day John was in the hospital, me and my husband were both laid off,” she said.

Faced with the financial hardships of medical bills, travel costs and other important things, LaVallie says she still wouldn’t let that affect them from taking care of her little brother.

“I try to keep the financial problems as not his problems. He’s already dealing with everything else going on in the hospital, so I think him being an 11-year-old, I don’t think financially he should have to worry,” LaVallie said.

And so far, he hasn’t. Six weeks later, now in the comfort of his home, he’s been able to begin his treatment. Sara says now it’s a waiting game for her brother to receive a kidney transplant. Doctors say it could take up to a year.

“They told us that after COVID we can put him on a donor list or start finding family or friends with the same blood type,” she said.

And as for John?

“I’m honestly just happy to be at home,” John said.

To donate and help John’s family, Click Here

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