A Michigan couple has moved their family into a 20-foot trailer so as to be able to pay the medical bills for their 1-year-old daughter.
Margaret VanTongeren and her partner, T.J. Bunker, face thousands in medical bills because their daughter, Ruby Pearl, was born with multiple medical issues and requires constant care from a team of doctors, according to People.
Ruby Pearl was born deaf and blind. She also has a lung condition, holes in her heart, a deteriorating brain, and sleep apnea.
“People might think we have nothing, but that's not true,” said VanTongeren, People reported. “We have each other. Yes, we're facing a huge challenge, but we still have hope and a lot to be thankful for.”
The family was evicted from their apartment in May after being unable to pay rent.
Also in May, doctors told the family to gather round and say bye to Ruby Pearl after she contracted pneumonia. But she battled through.
Bunker described Ruby Pearl as a “rare jewel,” adding that she was an inspiration.
“You never know what tomorrow is going to to bring, so we keep fighting right alongside her,” Bunker added. “There are still many unknowns about Ruby, but she is alive and a little warrior, even though the odds were stacked against her since birth.”
VanTongeren told People that from her very first ultrasound while pregnant with Ruby Pearl, problems arose.
It turned out that I had low amniotic fluid, but nobody knew why. When she was born (weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces), Ruby had club-looking feet and claw-looking hands and she started having seizures. We learned that she didn't have vision or hearing and that she'd need surgery right away to repair holes in her heart. Our own hearts felt broken. It was a very hard time.
VanTongeren and Bunker have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Ruby Pearl’s care. They hope to be able to buy a larger RV so they can travel west and find a drier climate to benefit Ruby Pearl's lungs.
According to a 2014 survey reported by NBC, one in six families in the U.S. that have incurred health care costs struggle to cover them.
VanTongeren and Bunker continue to be hopeful.
“We don't know what lies ahead for us, but we have faith that we're going to make it,” VanTongeren told People. “I’ve learned that we don't need a lot to get by. We're together and that's what really matters. For that, I'm extremely grateful.”