Owen Buell of Joliet has gone through a lot in his short toddler life.
In February, Owen was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma, a type of cancer most commonly found in children age 5 or younger.
He’s had chemotherapy, and he had the first of two stem cell transplants on July 8.
And even when Owen went to a nearby Ronald McDonald House, he returned to the hospital for three days due to an infection his central line, said his grandmother, Jackie Moore of Florida.
Owen has had “a feeding tube, numerous ports, bone marrow tests, stem cell extractions, major abdominal surgery,” according to The Help for Baby Owen Buell and his Family Facebook page, which Moore moderates.
So you can imagine how excited his family was to celebrate his second birthday Monday. Moore even shipped a 3-foot-tall stuffed llama to Owen’s home to surprise him because Owen loves llamas.
Except Owen didn’t get to see the llama.
Or any of his other birthday gifts.
He wasn’t there.
Owen and his parents, Brian Buell and Valerie Mitchell, were at a Ronald McDonald House in Chicago. The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago was supposed to discharge him on Monday, but that didn’t happen because of the riots, Moore said.
The hospital website said some clinics might be canceled “due to unrest in the city.”
Moore said she’s upset, not just for Owen and his parents, but also for the other families at Ronald McDonald House with children who are also fighting for their lives.
“Can you imagine those kids being inside and listening to this?” Moore said. “They can still look out the windows and hear the sirens and hear the gunshots. It’s terrifying.”
Moore’s also worried about the food situation for the families at the Ronald McDonald House.
Meals are “freshly made meals provided by caring volunteers,” according to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & NW Indiana website.
Moore’s afraid volunteers won’t be able to get near the Ronald McDonald House to bring nourishing meals or restock supplies.
“There might be Twinkies and Zingers and fruit chews,” Moore said. “But it’s not a meal.”
When Owen is finally discharged, he will come home with a “shopping bag full of medical supplies,” Moore said.
In a few weeks, Owen will resume is cancer treatments in preparation for a second stem cell transplant.
“The goal of the transplant is to make his bones more receptive to the chemo and possibly have him go into remission,” according to the Help for Baby Owen Buell and his Family Facebook page.
In the meantime, Owen’s brothers, Elliott, age 7, and Bentley, age 4, decorated the house for the occasion, Moore said.
Owen’s gifts are waiting for him to unwrap them.
“I told my daughter, ‘Put the cake in the refrigerator,’” Moore said. “At 2 years old, he doesn’t know it’s his birthday. He’ll be just as happy tomorrow if he can go home.”
“And I hope he likes the llama Grandma got him,” she said.
Donate to Owen through GoFundMe at bit.ly/2S7sPN7.