About Natanael Justiniano
Natanael Justiniano is a fourth grader in Northern Virginia. To many, Natanael may appear to be a typical 11 year old boy. He enjoys playing video games, wrestling with his older brother, laughing with friends via Skype, collecting Beyblades, watching movies and has a passion for Vietnamese cuisine.
But to all of us who know him best, he is our hero. Natanael was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.) in August 2006 and had a daunting prognosis of an average nine months to live. He withstood two and a half years of aggressive treatment. He endured 694 chemotherapy infusions, 24 spinal taps, 5 bone marrow aspirations, 10 days of cranial radiation treatment, and countless days in the hospital. On February 27, 2009, he completed his treatment and the doctors felt hopeful he would maintain his remission. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief thinking that the battle was over.
Little did we know our safe haven would collapse a mere 23 months later. On January 24, 2011, the oncologist declared that Natanael had relapsed. After receiving this devastating news, he was back in the hospital receiving an additional 50 chemotherapy infusions, two more spinal taps, two more bone marrow aspirates, two surgeries (one related to a secondary cancer in his parotid gland that developed as a result of his original treatment), and weeks and weeks in the hospital.
On May 16, 2011, Natanael was given a second chance at life through a cord blood transplant at Duke University Children’s Hospital. As of today, the doctors have declared that Natanael shows 98 percent donor cells – meaning that, as of today, the transplant is a success.
Although this is a significant milestone and cause for celebration, the family is still in need of assistance. His post transplant medical regimen requires him to take 36+ medications daily. His life saving procedure is complete, but the journey is far from over. Natanael is homebound and in isolation until the spring of 2012. It is not known at this point if the transplant might trigger other secondary effects in the future.
Natanael has the loving support of his mother Carmen, who endured her own battle with breast cancer in 2008. She would often comfort her son while receiving her own chemotherapy infusions. Jose, his 18 year old brother, is a senior in high school. Jose is the light of Natanael’s world. He can bring a smile to Natanael’s face even on the most difficult of days. Rounding out his team of support is Carmen Ana. Carmen Ana relocated from Puerto Rico in 2007 to help care for Natanael so Carmen could return to work full-time to support the family.
Throughout all of this despair and anguish this family’s spirit, faith, compassion and sense of humor have not only remained intact, but took on even more luster.
Although Natanael has the support and love from his family, he also needs your support too. Please make an impact in his life by making a tax deductible contribution to the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) today.
-The cost for a cord blood transplant is overwhelming: $1,000,000. While Natanael’s insurance covered some of the cost of his transplant, we expect the out-of-pocket costs to his family to be up to $50,000.
-100 percent of the funds raised in honor of Natanael will go toward transplant-related expenses. COTA is a not for profit national charity dedicated to helping families with their transplant-related expenses and organizing communities to raise funds at a local level.
-70 percent of families like Natanael’s go into bankruptcy. Help his family be in the 30 percent who do not.
WE CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOU...
Our goal is to raise $50,000. Here's how you can help:
-Make a secure online donation.
-See if your company will match your donation. Information is available online.
-Make a deposit into the "COTA for NatanaelJ" account at any BB&T branch. Please use account 0005108459729.
-Send a check (payable to "COTA for NatanaelJ" in the memo line) to: Children's Organ Transplant Association, 2501 COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
-Watch this website for information about our fundraising activities. Then come out and support Natanael. We promise lots of fun.
-"Like" C O T A For NatanaelJ on Facebook.
-Donate your time and talent. Contact us to find out when the next monthly volunteer meeting will take place. We're looking for all sorts of great ideas and energy to make this campaign a huge success.
On behalf of Natanael, his family and COTA team, thanks for reading.