“Is it better than staying at home, or that we are being placed in a homeless shelter where she is at greater risk?” Garcia said of her 3-year-old brandy.
Fear is not new to a young couple, as brandy has an extremely rare metabolic disorder that requires round-the-clock care and makes it vulnerable to any type of virus.
He is already a miracle. Most children with her condition do not live beyond the age of one.
But the epidemic has made it even harder to keep him alive. Garcia and Lusk quit their jobs in April to care for their children and reduced their chances of coronavirus in their home.
They are now in debt of thousands of dollars and facing eviction at the end of the month.
Brandi’s parents are like so many people with a sensitive family member who have made huge sacrifices to protect her for months and months – and who are watching over several weeks as the Kovid-19 spread In progress.
But it is difficult to convince Brandy’s brother and sister that they cannot safely go to school or even go around other children. Young friends hang out on the railing of their apartment courtyard and call on Isabella, 5, and 6-year-old Elijah to play outside the next door. But it is risky to say yes.
“We try to explain it to them,” said Garcia, 29. “They’re like, ‘Oh, well, I was good today. I did nothing wrong.” It’s like, I know you did nothing wrong. It’s just … you are not able to go out. “
Brandy lacks carnitine-acycleritine translocase (CACT), a serious condition where his body cannot use certain types of fat as a source of energy. She must be fed through a tube in her stomach every hour and she is on a long list of expensive drugs.
His body has almost no reserves to fight the virus.
“Any serious illness can be fatal to him,” Dr. Luis Umana, pediatric genetic and metabolic specialist at Children’s Health in Dallas and assistant professor at UT Southwestern.
“Kovid is so contagious and so pervasive, topping our list of things that she can easily contract,” said Umena, who is Brandi’s doctor. “For other people, I mean, she vaccinates right now. We don’t have a vaccine for coronovirus yet – at least available.”
Umana said that less than 1 in 250,000 babies are born with a CACT deficiency and this requires “an enormous amount of effort” to treat even in normal times. “He wouldn’t really be out of the woods,” he said. “Anything can go wrong at any time in his life, and it can happen for him.”
Families like Brandi found themselves in a “no-win situation” during the epidemic, Umana observed. “They have to take risks (of working), or not be able to meet their basic needs.”
On Christmas Day… More Eviction
Garcia quit his factory job in April and Lusk quit a home health job around the same time. The family receives from $ 414 per month in unemployment benefits and $ 305 in meal tickets. Medicaid helps pay for most of Brandy’s medications and treatments, as well as at-home nursing care for up to 16 hours a day.
The family says they are nine months behind on rent and $ 2,000 behind on utilities. The only reason his lights are still on is because Brandi has a medical condition requiring electricity to power the feeding pump. “I have sold everything in my house,” said Lusk, 28, to try to raise money, pay a bill, pay partial bills.
The young couple are visibly distressed when they ask their children about Christmas. But they only focus on a different day in December – the last one, when they say they are worried about losing their home.
“We’re not even thinking about Christmas presents,” Garcia said. “We’re thinking of a place to live,”
“They’re not going for a Christmas,” added Lusk, matter of fact. “They have nothing.”
Dallas County has seen a dramatic increase in Kovid-19 cases over the past month, as in other major cities in Texas. The couple said that they have sought work from home, but without formal education, they have come up short.
The biggest fear for Garcia and Lusk, with no family that supports them financially or physically, is being evicted, going to a homeless shelter, and sending Brandi back to the hospital where she is treated can go. When Brandi was first born, her parents had been with her in the hospital for two months and they could barely see their other two children.
“The last thing I want is to get back to doing it,” said Garcia.
“Or not being able to see her and then she’s in a coffin,” her mother said.
The couple said that they try to take one day at a time and pray that the virus “will go away.”
“What we expected was that we are still with her. She is still here,” said Garcia. “We’re still with her, now.”