By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Young Cesar Birkholz, the son of Valarie (Cast) and Cameron Birkholz of Howard Lake, has already been through a lot in his short five years of life.
From the moment he was born, Cesar has been fighting for his life against the same medical condition which claimed the life of his two older brothers, Faustino (Tino) and Carlos Santana.
Cesar and his brothers were all born with a genetic mutation that did not allow their kidney and liver functions to develop properly.
Although Cesar was able to receive a kidney transplant from his biological father, Oscar Santana, in 2008 to improve his kidney and liver functions, his body has since produced donor-specific antibodies, rejecting the new kidney.
Cesar also has a failing liver, which may be because his kidney is no longer functioning as it should, Valarie said.
Soon, Cesar will need both a liver and kidney transplant, as his laboratory results have shown declining function in both, she added.
A benefit, “Cesar’s Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow,” will take place Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Waverly Village Hall.
There will be a pig roast and beverages, along with a bean bag tournament from 2 to 5 p.m. (registration begins at 1 p.m.).
A silent auction will take place from 4 to 7 p.m., and a live auction at 7:30 p.m.
Other children’s activities during the day include feather extensions, “fair hair,” and face painting.
The band “Unleaded” will provide entertainment from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Admission to the event is free, and 10 percent of the proceeds will also be donated to the National Kidney Foundation.
To donate items for the silent auction or baked goods in disposable pans, contact Stephanie at (763) 670-9650, Jamie at (612) 747-0666, Emily at (612) 987-6786, Tiffany at (612) 702-0293, or Laurie at (952) 412-9945. An e-mail can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monetary donations can be made to “Cesar’s Hope,” Citizens State Bank, PO Box 68, Waverly, MN 55390.
To follow Cesar’s progress, visit his Caringbridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/cesarshope, or like “Cesar’s Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow” on Facebook.
Cesar is the third child born to Valarie and Santana with failing kidneys and liver.
The first child, Tino, was born in August 2004, and began experiencing liver failure at the age of 4 weeks.
He began receiving dialysis and was placed on a transplant list to receive a new kidney and liver.
However, when Tino was only 9 months old, he developed a staph infection and he died of sepsis.
Valarie soon found out she was having another child, and Carlos was born in April 2006.
Although Valarie was told the chances of having another child with the problems Tino was born with were very small, Valarie’s pregnancy was closely monitored to make sure everything was developing properly, she said.
Everything appeared to be developing well, and the doctors did not find anything unusual during her pregnancy. However, shortly after he was born, Carlos was diagnosed with the same disorder as Tino.
By the time Carlos was diagnosed, Valarie was already pregnant with Cesar. Once again, she was told the chances of another child being born with the same disorder were slim to none, she said.
About the time that Cesar was born in April 2007, Carlos developed a cold which turned into pneumonia. He was only a year old, and had to be intebated and received a tracheotomy.
“Carlos was a lot more complicated than Tino and Cesar,” Valarie said.
Carlos passed away when he was 3 years old of lung and heart failure, secondary to liver and kidney failure, because of his medical conditions.
Cesar was diagnosed with the same disorder as his brothers shortly after he was born.
The medical condition Cesar has makes his bones brittle, and before his kidney transplant in 2008, he would get hairline fractures in his legs simply by getting his diaper changed.
Along with brittle bones, Cesar also deals with several other medical complications, including high blood pressure, hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice), elevated liver enzymes in the bloodstream, and a short stature.
He is on 14 different medications, which he has to take three times a day, including anti-rejection medication, vitamin and calcium supplements, and allergy and anti-itch medication.