Villagers among those reaching out to help critically ill Wildwood Elementary student

A critically ill child and her financially-strapped family are depending on the generosity of residents of The Villages and surrounding communities to help regain their daughter’s health and restore their fiscal well-being.

Eight-year-old Abigail “Abby” Lacayo, a third-grade student at Wildwood Elementary School, has been battling excruciating pain and bloating for the past several years.  Recently, she was admitted to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville where her physicians were able to finally diagnosis her condition as a rare form of pancreatitis and gastroparesis. They inserted a stint that has relieved some of the pain. But that procedure’s benefits are only temporary.

Abigail “Abby’ Lacayo

Now, Abby’s parents face the daunting task of locating a specialized hospital able and willing to perform their daughter’s complicated surgery – a procedure that will remove her pancreas and spleen and transplant islet cells into the liver.

There are no qualified hospitals in Florida. They are exploring potential facilities in Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania.

“As expected, her parents’ lives are in turmoil,” said Linda Magliocca, a guidance counselor at the school.  “Her mother, Gina, had been working in our library, but used up all her sick days so she could remain at her daughter’s bedside. Because of her decision, the family income has been considerably reduced.”

“They have medical insurance, but there’s no money to pay ongoing expenses, as well as the cost of traveling to a distant hospital and then living away from home,” Magliocca told The Villages-News.  “Whether their insurance will cover all of the enormous medical bills is yet to be determined.”

The family is seeking the community’s support and has established a Go Fund Me account: https://www.gofundme.com/donations-for-abby. Initial contributions have started coming in toward a $10,000 goal.

One of the fund’s organizers has been Faye Scher, an active member of the Gilchrist West Social Club, one of the organizations in The Villages that has generously donated time and financial support to Abby’s school.

“The overwhelming response of donations and good wishes hasn’t surprised me. Villagers just jump in when these kids need help,” Scher said.  “I can always count on our community. Neighbors helping neighbors! But a great deal more in contributions is needed immediately.”   

Abby’s mom also expressed her continued gratitude on their Go Fund Me page.

“I wanted you to know that I do not have the words to tell you how much that I appreciate your help. This all seems impossible on my own. I am emotionally and physically drained. I have so much to worry about with Abby and when I start to add in everything together, I truly feel helpless. Thanks again.”