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One Step Forward
Dakota Rucker
When Children's Memorial was hit by the tidal wave of HIV and AIDS cases in the 1990s, the Hospital responded with a pioneering clinic that cared for both kids and mothers with HIV. More than half of the kids seen at the clinic are in foster care or a single-parent home (often with an HIV-infected mother).
Dakota was 2 years old when he first came to the clinic. He had been born with HIV, and was so ill that Dr. Ram Yogev didn't expect him to live for more than a couple of months.
This kid comes to us almost with full-blown AIDS. The mother is giving her best, which unfortunately is not that much. -- Dr. Ram Yogev
Dakota's mother was an IV drug user with AIDS. She couldn't care for her son, so Dr. Yogev had him put in foster care. Terry and Walt Rucker would later adopt Dakota as their son.
Like many kids born with HIV, Dakota responded well to anti-viral drugs invented in the '90s. But there were no miracle drugs to repair HIV-related damage to his kidneys. Before he was 10, his kidneys failed. He would need a kidney transplant to go on living.
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