LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- A Lehigh Acres family isn't giving up hope to save their son's life. We first introduced you to Michael Gonzalez in October, when the only food he can tolerate was about to expire. Still living off that supply, the family has new hope to cure his condition.
Michael has a form of mitochondrial disease which makes him allergic to just about all food. He can only handle a specific formula, which is no longer in production, and a special form of hemp and sugar.
His mother Jennifer says, "everyone in America eats food. You stop at the drive-thru to get food because you are in a hurry to go somewhere. We can't eat in our car. He doesn't get a happy meal with chicken nuggets or whatever other people want to buy. He doesn't get to stop and pick up a pack of carrots or apples at the store. He sits there and begs for an apple. He wants a safe apple. He says 'mommy can you find me a safe apple?' I'm like well, I'll try."
"When he's reacting he's not Michael at all. He's something else. He can't walk, he doesn't have the strength to sit up, he looses his vocabulary, he has seizures he doesn't get happy and he's miserable little mope and for the next week I beg to have my little boy back," Jennifer adds.
The family only has about a 200 day supply left of his formula, and it's expiried. "He's living on expired food. And we have to be careful because you shouldn't really do that. But we don't have any other choice, because we're trying to save him," she says.
Jennifer hopes the company that makes the formula will put it back into production or create a new vitamin supply for Michael. Now, they have new hope to cure his condition. She says, "we found hope with the fact that with a bone marrow transplant, his body could accept stem cells from another person. The family is going through testing to see of Michael's little brother Matthew could be that person. "If his little brother can cure him, why not try? Even if it's a 50% chance. Is it worth $300,000? Yes. Would I sell everything I had and give up my left kidney? Absolutely." The family would have to travel to Canada or Australia to have the procedure done, because it's not offered in the U.S. They had Matthew's cord blood saved, so he wouldn't need surgery if he is in fact a match for Michael.
But the family needs help to pay for the expensive procedure and make their home allergy friendly. "Who doesnt want to hear that? Who doesn't want to know this doctor saved this boy's life? And all these people helped create that. And have their boy back, and keep their boy. He's too young. I don't want to lose him. I want him to play and have fun. I want him to someday be able to eat a banana. Or cotten candy. He doesn't even ask for it but how cool would that be? Or a cake," she says.
"He's four and he's in diapers. He's four and he's on a bottle. It's not because I'm lazy its because I've tried with everything I can so he feels normal. It's hard, this is really hard, it feels like we're all alone. And sometimes it feels like the world is giving in on us. But we have to keep our head high because this is our son."
The Gonzalez family will have a fundraiser this Saturday to raise money for the bone marrow transplant. It's in the Winn-Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Boulevard and Old Olga Road. You can get a BBQ plate for $10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all the proceeds will go to Michael's medical fund.
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