Metro volunteers want to open first day care in U.S. for children with compromised immune systems

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some children can't be around other kids because they're very susceptible to infection. It could be from cancer treatment, transplants or some diseases. Now metro volunteers intend to open the first day care program in the nation for those kids.

A door separates Elijah Daniel from the rest of the world. This is isolation, both medical and social.

"He's a child and children want to do things. They want to go places, they want to be with other kids, and he can't," said Jesse Daniel, Elijah's father.

Elijah is in Children's Mercy Hospital fighting an infection. He's very susceptible to them because of complications from a stem cell transplant three years ago. When Elijah's not in the hospital, he's usually at home. The eight-year-old has never been able to go to school because of the germs there.

"For him, a common cold can turn into something that could be potentially deadly," Daniel said.

Daniel had to quit his full-time job to be with Elijah during the day. But there could be another way.

"This is it," said Karen Anthony as she entered a room at Crest Bible Church in Merriam, Kansas.

Karen Anthony and Ron Jones are both retired from jobs as caregivers at Children's Mercy. They're among the volunteers who have a dream to renovate space in the church into a day care center just for kids with compromised immune systems.

"We know that we can provide a clean environment that has high-scale activities and things that can enhance their recovery," said Anthony, a registered nurse.

Anthony says the center will screen children each day for signs of infection. She says it will be a home away from home where kids can be with other kids, and parents can feel safe leaving them.

"That they can keep their job, have a little bit of life, think a little bit about themselves," said Anthony.

It will be called RJ Children's Haven, named for a child and a nursing student who passed away.

"My reaction was it's a godsend. You don't know how much is needed until you're in a situation," said Daniel.

The volunteers are working to raise $200,000 for renovations so the center can open next year. For more on RJ Children's Haven, go to  A fundraiser is planned for Sunday, April 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City.

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