Karen Willow LaLonde-Schaub
October 30, 2016 - September 5, 2020
The family will receive friends at the Hale United Methodist Church from 11:00 AM Friday, September 11, 2020, until the time of service at 1:00 PM.
Hale United Methodist Church
1:00 PM Friday, September 11, 2020 at the Hale United Methodist Church (201 West Main Street, Hale, Michigan 48739).
Karen Willow LaLonde-Schaub passed away on Saturday, September 5, 2020, from complications of ARPKD, a debilitating kidney/liver disease that she battled from her first breath to her last. She leaves behind Mom and Dad, Danielle and Jared, a brother Darrin and a sister Zofia. Karen also leaves behind a large extended family and many friends. She will be dearly missed by all.
Karen was born October 30, 2016 and spent most of her first year of life in a bed in Mott’s Children’s Hospital, desperately fighting the disease that finally overpowered her. ARPKD is a relentless genetic disorder that causes cysts to grow uncontrollably on organs, primarily kidneys, rendering them useless and affects the liver and other major organs.
Nothing about her passing is good or right or makes sense. Everyone is probably asking themselves why this had to happen. ARPKD strikes 1 in 20,000 births so it is rare and not well understood, but the awful truth is that this disease does not discriminate. It is an evil, insidious disease that manifests itself in many ways: Underdeveloped lungs, high blood pressure, loss of kidney function, problems with blood flow through the liver, which can lead to serious internal bleeding and constant serious infections including sepsis that can damage multiple organ systems.
Karen faced innumerable surgeries and procedures during her battle starting with removal of a kidney when she was only 4 days old. When she made it through this major procedure, we knew we had a fighter on our hands. She truly was a miracle baby, our little Kare Bear. One of the most joyous days was the day she was well enough to finally come home from the hospital. Although she had to be hooked up to a dialysis machine 12 hours per day, every day, she kept a smile and a laugh that we can never forget.
Karen’s life was filled with countless doctors’ appointments and the inevitable hospital stay every few months as she battled constant infections and complications her disease caused her. Danielle and Jared were always at her side willing this little girl to go on. They gave up their careers for her and focused on trying to help make her life as good and joyous as they could.
Karen loved books and movies and her favorite subject was princesses. She enjoyed dressing up and learning and singing the songs of the movies she most enjoyed. The Disney movie Moana proved to be her favorite as she watched this constantly and memorized the dialog and songs. Just when you thought she was asleep and paused the movie her eyes would jump open and she would point to the screen and let you know she wasn’t quite ready for it to be over. Karen displayed an indomitable spirit and did not let her illness dull her zest for life even though she was often in pain Mathew 18:3 states, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.
Karen loved the outdoors even though she rarely got to do this because of her affliction. She was very undersized for her age (another ARPKD penalty), and had trouble with strength in her legs, so she could go out in a stroller once in awhile when the conditions were exactly right. The smile on her face was something to behold when she was outdoors. Our best dreams were seeing Karen running barefoot through the grass under the summer sun. If this only could have been realized on this earth.
Only four months ago things looked so positive for Kare Bear. She had not been in the hospital for four months (a personal best,) finally qualified for a kidney transplant, signs of infection were nil, she was getting stronger everyday and even got to attend school a bit. All the months and years that the end seemed inevitable were forgotten as all of our hopes soared.
Karen was hospitalized for an internal infection once again and was never able to leave the hospital. Her last few months were spent in a hospital bed as one infection after another attacked her frail little body, weakening her until it was too much for her and the doctors ran out of heroics. Fortunately, her family was able to spend her last hours with her as she passed peacefully into the Lord’s hands.
We do not want Karen’s passing to just be another statistic, but rather allow our Kare Bear be a reminder to all us all on how precious every life is. Be thankful for each day, live every day as if it was your last and love those close to you without condition.
The family will receive friends at the Hale United First Methodist Church (201 West Main Street, Hale, Michigan 48739) from 11:00 AM Friday, September 11, 2020 until the time of service at 1:00 PM. Pastor Keith R. Reinhardt will officiate. Karen will be cremated concluding her service.
Memorial contributions may be made in Karen’s memory to the family via www.gofundme.com and search; Karen Willow Schaub.