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20 Years of Hope: Kaniel

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Baby Kaniel was born in Uganda in July of 2016, to the great joy of his parents Ronald and Joy. Their happiness quickly turned to fear and sadness when Kaniel went into distress just a few hours later. His breathing became labored, and nurses came running to whisk the tiny newborn away to the ICU. Ronald said how awful it was to see his newborn son connected to machines, with no one being able to explain exactly what was happening to his first-born child. The great joy in the new parents’ hearts turned to a deep, aching pain.

Baby in white striped top lying on a blue blanket surrounded by rattles

When the doctor finally came to speak with them, he delivered the difficult news that Kaniel had been born with a very complex heart defect, stating, “He should not be able to live even a single day.”

Despite this dire news, Ronald felt a strong sense of peace come over him. He looked at his little boy and told the medical team, “It is well…it is well. I know God has a plan for my son.” The doctor replied, “You can continue to believe God, but I still need to tell you that your son’s heart will fail without immediate surgery.”

Ronald and Joy soon learned that in the entire country of Uganda, there is just one cardiac hospital. The Uganda Heart Institute is able to do quality repairs for less complicated heart conditions like ASD and VSD but cannot take on more complex cases. In Uganda, it is estimated that 15,000 babies a year are born with heart defects. Of these, 8,000 children a year need surgery to survive, and yet less than 1,000 (around 6%) receive the medical help they need. Back when Kaniel’s father first wrote to us, the entire country of Uganda had just four cardiologists.

Map of Uganda for 20 Years of Hope Kaniel

Baby Kaniel was soon discharged from the hospital with no hope of being healed in his home country of Uganda.

Being a couple of deep faith, Ronald and Joy decided to fast and pray to God to help their child. During this time, Ronald began contacting heart hospitals he found online. He described how incredibly painful it was to receive one email from India that read, “You just need to let your son go. His heart is too complicated. Just let him pass away.” Another hospital in Canada replied that Kaniel would not survive infancy with his complex anatomy. The doctor wrote that continuing to search for help was only a waste of time.

That certainly wasn’t the news that Ronald and Joy were wanting to hear.

On day 12 of their fasting, Ronald told us that as he was praying, he heard a clear voice say, “Love Without Boundaries.” He even looked around the room for the person who spoke the words as he was completely alone at that time. He thought that perhaps God was speaking to his heart about His unfailing love, so Ronald began searching his Bible for any supporting scriptures. However, he was not able to find those exact three words in anything he read.

Ronald then turned to the internet to see what he might be able to find online. He typed “Love Without Boundaries” into the Google search bar, and thank goodness our LWB website was the first result!

He sat staring at the computer screen, looking at our website and feeling a bit amazed that the three words he’d heard earlier that morning just happened to be a children’s charity. He immediately sent a message to our LWB email address. Within an hour, Ronald had received our first reply, which filled his heart with new hope for his son.

Father and son in hospital holding a blue gift bag

Thanks to the generosity of Wolfson Medical Center in Israel, and charities Save a Child’s Heart and the House of Destiny, Baby Kaniel was soon moved to Israel for his open-heart surgery. Thankfully, he recovered beautifully and returned to Uganda with a second chance at a healthy life.

Mom in blue scrubs and cap holds baby with heart defect in hospital

Since that time, Kaniel underwent a second surgery at age five (this time at our partner hospital in India) and became a big brother, not once but twice!

Young boy in hospital holds a pink stuffed animal and green truck

Kaniel is now seven years old, and his parents tell us that he is an active, friendly, bright and curious little boy who loves space and rockets as well as toy cars and diggers.

Boy in a blue button up shirt stands in front of a flowering shrub with arms crossed

Kaniel’s parents are now vital Love Without Boundaries team members, with Ronald serving as LWB-Uganda’s country director. It is important to them to be able to help other parents find the same kind of assistance that they received, and they now work tirelessly to expand LWB’s many program areas throughout the country. Their beautiful — and healthy — family all love helping others. In fact, Ronald made us smile by telling us that Kaniel is always searching for kids in their community who might be hungry, and he then brings them back to their house for a home-cooked meal!

Uganda family of mom, dad, and three children in a colorful family portrait

Kaniel’s story is truly a happy and hopeful one. We’re grateful that he was given the opportunity for a healthy life and that both his mom and dad have become such an integral part of LWB’s Uganda leadership team. These are the wonderful outcomes that YOU make possible when you support our work around the world.

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