Wildwood Elementary student Abby makes good on Christmas promise

When Wildwood Elementary School student Abigail “Abby” Lacayo walked into a Minneapolis hospital on Dec. 12 for a highly complicated surgery, she shared a clear message with her medical team – she would be discharged by Christmas Eve.

Abby Lacayo was happy to have ‘some room to roam’ after returning to the Ronald McDonald House where she and her parents, Gina and Denis, are staying in Minneapolis.
Abby Lacayo was all smiles in the elevator as she prepared to leave the hospital on Sunday.

Abby and her parents, Gina and Denis, already had been told that the average stay after the surgery Abby was facing – having her pancreas, spleen and gallbladder removed, while surgeons also transplanted islet cells into her liver – typically would require a 10- to 15-day stay. So getting their hopes up to celebrate Christmas morning at the nearby Ronald McDonald House where they had been provided free lodging wasn’t exactly encouraged.

This medical team, however, was about to find out what true determination was all about, as Abby had an answer for the doctors who labeled her goal as a “very ambitious” one, to say the least.

“Don’t underestimate me,” said the tough 9-year-old, who was more than ready to put behind her the pain and bloating she had suffered through Hereditary Chronic Pancreatitis and Gastro Paresis.

Abby Lacayo enjoyed some time on her iPad – a gift from the Amigos Sports Club in The Villages – before being discharged from the hospital on Sunday afternoon.

And just like that, 11 days after Abby walked into the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, the smiling straight-A fourth-grader walked right back out, ready to begin the six-to-12 week recovery period she faces before moving forward pain-free and enjoying the healthy life she and her parents have dreamed about for the young girl who hopes to be a doctor someday.

“She is happy to have some room to roam,” Gina said late Sunday afternoon, after the family returned to the Ronald McDonald House. “We are super excited!”

Before being discharged Sunday from the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Abby Lacayo enjoyed dressing up like Rudolph and riding around the unit ringing her jingle bells.

Prior to Abby being discharged, Gina said she and Denis received training on how to care for her PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line that will be used to administer various substances into their daughter’s body. They received diabetes training, as Abby most likely will be a diabetic going forward. And they also learned how to administer lipids via intravenous infusions and feeding tube management.

“I will be nurse Mom around the clock,” Gina said. “I have to do something every two hours.”

Abby Lacayo quickly became known as ‘the little celebrity’ because of all the Christmas cards, well-wishes and letters she received from Villagers and her Wildwood Elementary School classmates.

Gina said the family left the hospital with an “enormous bag of meds” and other supplies they’ll need to take care of Abby, including her feeding tube pump.

“She will have meds and glucose checks every four hours and IV infusions 12 hours every day,” Gina said. “But the doctors say she is recovering at a very unexpected, rapid pace.”

Abby Lacayo walked into the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis on Dec. 12 telling doctors that she’d be discharged by Christmas Eve – and she left the medical facility 11 days later.

Prior to leaving the hospital, the little girl who has captured the hearts of Villagers and her schoolmates alike spent quite a bit of time reading the Christmas cards, get-well wishes and letters she’s been receiving.

“Abby enjoys all the cards and messages of support,” Gina said. “The nurses here see all the mail and call her ‘the little celebrity.’”

One person who wasn’t surprised to hear that Abby was out of the hospital before Christmas was Villager Faye Scher, a volunteer at Wildwood Elementary and a member of the charity-oriented Gilchrist West Social Club. Scher has spent a great deal of time with Abby and her family and has done everything she can to help them out, from creating a GoFundMe account (click HERE to donate) to providing winter coats for the frigid Minnesota weather to delivering gift baskets to spending quality time with Abby and Gina. Not surprisingly, along the way, Scher and Abby have become quite close.

Villager Faye Scher, a volunteer at Wildwood Elementary and a member of the charity-oriented Gilchrist West Social Club, poses with Abby Lacayo recently.

“Mighty things come in small packages,” said Scher, who can be reached at fscher@aol.com. “I knew Abby would was positive from the start and would give this her all. I am so happy her family will be able to have so many positive things to celebrate going into 2019. Getting out of the hospital is such a blessing.”

Gina said her family is, indeed, excited for the next chapter in their lives.

“Things are looking great,” she said. “Thank you to everyone! Your support has been amazing.

Those wishing to reach out with messages of support for Abby can do so by sending cards and letters to: Abby Lacayo c/o Ronald McDonald House, 621 Oak Street SE, Room No. 311, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

Nine-year-old Abby Lacayo strikes a pose Sunday before leaving the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.