PHILADELPHIA - It's been an uphill battle for a Berks County mom whose life has been turned upside down by her infant son's illness.
Eleven-month-old Jasiel Melendez, of Reading, has been in the hospital almost every day of his young life.
The infant on Tuesday was rushed back to the intensive care unit at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was tended to by a team of doctors for complications, family members said.
For the mother, Katiria, once a model with a thriving career living in New York City, this has all been a tough reality.
"It's been the biggest mountain you would ever have to climb," Katiria said. "There's nothing worse than having to deal with a child that has health issues, especially when it comes to life and death."
To make matters worse, Katiria said doctors still don't know, definitively, what her son suffers from.
Over the past year, she said he has experienced bouts of sepsis, when the immune system responds to serious infections by attacking the body's own organs and tissues.
"One day, he's okay. The next day, he's on life support," Katiria said.
Blood samples have been sent to labs across the country to get a better idea about what Jasiel suffers from, Katiria said.
"These labs, they take months, sometimes to get the results," Katiria said. "In that time we're here waiting and suffering."
Katiria, who is also a single mother, said the travel costs between Berks County and Philadelphia, to be with her son every day, are a blow to her wallet.
Since there's no precise diagnosis of what Jasiel suffers from, Katiria said it's been tough to obtain aid.
Community members in Reading are holding a fundraiser to lend a helping hand.
"It can help me a lot. You know, because I can't work. I'm a full-time hospital mother taking care of my son," Katiria said.
The benefit for Katiria and her son, Jasiel, is set for this Friday at 8 p.m. at the Puerto Rican Civic Association, 233 S. 4th St., Reading.
Donations can also be made at Sovereign Bank in the name of Katiria and Jasiel Melendez.
Allentown, PA 18102