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(Toledo News Now) -
A Sylvania couple is getting ready to do something heart-wrenching: say goodbye to a boy they helped to live a more normal life.
Last spring, a little boy from Haiti came to Toledo Children's Hospital for a life-changing surgery. As he prepares to go back home, his host family here says they have also been changed.
Achiga is just 28 months old and full of energy, but when he was born in Haiti, he had to have a colostomy – a surgical procedure that brings part of the large intestine through an opening in the abdomen to drain waste.
"He would have been ostracized," said Kathleen Mierzwiak, Achiga's host mother. "He wouldn't have been able to go to a school. He probably would have died from an infection because they didn't have appliances or those kinds of things."
Kathleen and her husband Dave say Achiga survived a life-threatening complication from surgery in May. Doctors at Toledo Children's Hospital also performed a reverse colostomy and Achiga is doing well and is able to use the bathroom like everyone else.
"It has been fun. He is fun, just going around the floor, playing with him, kicking the ball with him," Dave said. "He is just an all-American boy already."
But when Achiga is cleared by doctors, which could be this spring, the Mierzwiaks will have to take him back home to his family in Haiti.
"We are just grateful for every minute we have with him, and we have a gazillion pictures and videos," Kathleen said. "And he has made us better people."
"It's going to be horrible," Dave added. "But we do know that…he came loved and he's going to go back loved and he will do well."
The Mierzwiaks are holding a fundraiser on Friday at the Olander Nederhouser Community Hall in Sylvania from 7-10:30 p.m. Funds will help pay for a new house for Achiga's family and to help other children fly to Toledo for medical treatment. There will be a silent auction and the benefit is open to the public.