Kidney dreams: A story of faith and family on Thanksgiving

Irma Saraí Castillo of Perry was overjoyed Nov. 15, when the doctors said her new kidney was working very well within just a few hours of surgery. Photo submitted

Editor’s note: Ten-year-old Irma Saraí Castillo of Perry, the beloved daughter of Carla and Alfredo Castillo, fell ill in March with life-threatening kidney failure. In this story, Irma’s mother describes the miracle of Irmita’s healing.

On March 10 of this year, I took my 10-year-old daughter Irma to the doctor because she did not want to eat. Everything caused her nausea.

By then it had been four weeks since the the whole family had COVID-19. Even Irma tested positive but did not have any symptoms. The doctor told me that she looked pale but otherwise did not think she seemed too bad. He said that maybe her food had no taste because of the COVID-19.

I said, “No, that was more than a month ago. Please check her over well because it is weird that she would go so long without eating.”

He continued the testing and sent me home, saying he would call with the results. The doctor called at 6 p.m. and told me that the laboratory results indicated that Irma was very sick, that her heart was about to stop and that he believed that she would not survive the night.

He advised that we take her to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, and we immediately went there with Irma. We arrived, and they started treating her, but her blood pressure was getting higher and higher. They told us that she had kidney problems and would have to be transferred to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

We arrived in Iowa City at midnight, and immediately they began to do a blood transfusion to prepare Irma for an emergency operation. The doctors put a catheter in Irma’s neck for hemodialysis and did many other things to stabilize her.

My husband and I asked why Irma was so sick, and the doctor said that her kidneys were so damaged that they doing 0% of their work. Basically, they were not working at all, so it was important first to stabilize her. She spent five days in intensive care, and then they sent her to a recovery floor, where we spent two-and-a-half weeks with her.

The doctors said that her kidney damage was irreversible. They said that for a while she would have to live with hemodialysis, and then she would need a kidney transplant.

We could not believe it. I felt that it was a nightmare, and I wanted to wake up, but it was our reality.

We prayed to the Lord, “My God, you are the Almighty Lord. Have mercy on us.” We gathered in the Church Fuente de Vida, and Pastor Mabel Nieto along with the congregation fasted and prayed, interceding for my daughter Irmita.

Even though Irma is a young girl, she has a lot of faith in God. She also prayed for her healing, and she had a dream or vision where she saw Jesus bringing her kidneys. I felt that at any moment she was going to be healthy.

We left the hospital, and our new normal became traveling to the Iowa City hospital three times a week for hemodialysis since this is the only place in Iowa for children who need hemodialysis. Sometimes, for other appointments, we had to travel four times a week.

Irma could no longer go to school, but my daughter was very blessed. Both her fourth and fifth grade teachers from the Perry Elementary School helped her a lot so that she did not get so far behind. They worked together and communicated with a teacher from the hemodialysis center to help Irma during this period, and we are very grateful for their help and all their love and support.

We are also thankful to my family and friends who have supported us a lot with their prayers and to the church, who did an activity to help us, and also to my cousin Karen, who made a GoFundMe fundraiser for us in these difficult times.

To all those who helped us, we are very grateful!

The important thing about every difficult moment that comes into our lives, even if it seems that there is no solution and that it never ends, yet we must never lose faith in God because for Him there is nothing impossible.

I knew that the only one who could help us was Him, and I kept praying for my daughter morning and night. For a while God did not answer me, but then He spoke to me in the month of August and showed me in a dream.

In the dream a very strong electrical storm had fallen. My husband and I did not feel it, but my daughter Irma was soaked, and I said, “How is it possible that Alfredo and I do not get wet but Irma did get wet?” And a map appeared in my hands, and a voice told me the storm was strong and rough and that it was going to take time to pass but that it would pass. I looked at the map and could see that I was already more than halfway there.

I woke up, and I knew it was God speaking to me. I kept praying, and I was sure that God hears our prayers. I kept asking and praying, “God, I know that you are going to heal her. Lord Jesus, do not let my daughter go through more suffering. I know that with a divine touch of yours she can be healthy.”

Through the days I had other dreams in which God confirmed that He was going to heal her, and my daughter Irmita also had a lot of faith. Time passed, and she had faith that God was with her.

On Aug. 28 I will never forget how God sent me another dream. In the dream, a woman gave me a message and told me that she had asked for a miracle and that she changed her prayer. Instead of continuing to ask for the miracle, she was going to thank God for the miracle. Even though she could not touch the miracle with her hands or the miracle hadn’t happened yet, she could feel it in the spirit. “And what happened? Carla! Glory to God Hallelujah! after two months I had what I asked for so much!”

As she talked, a box appeared in my hands, and inside the box was a necklace of stones. One stone was almost dark black in color, and the other was pink, and the woman gave me the name of her miracle, and the dream ended.

In the morning, I told Irma about it, and I said, “Daughter, after two months God will heal you.”

Irma told me she had also dreamed that we were decorating the house for the fall harvest, and she told me, “Mom, you never decorate the house for fall harvest,” and I told her, “Yes, now we do because it is a special time,” Then Irmita was sure just like me that the time for her healing was coming soon.

Irma was still on hemodialysis and apart from that, they put a very strong treatment to lower her immune system so that she was ready for the kidney transplant. That treatment lasted for three months, and it made her very sick with lots of side effects.

The doctors said the cause of Irma’s kidney failure was called anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) Vasculitis. They said ANCA vasculitis was already in her system, and we did not know it  but when she was infected with COVD-19, it “woke up.” That was how the doctors described it.

They told us it is a disease of the immune system that causes loss of kidneys and lungs. Irma lost both her kidneys, and she began to suffer damage to her lungs, but with the treatments they were able to save her lungs. The situation was very complicated, but for God there is nothing impossible.

God gave me another dream, and I dreamed that my husband’s aunt gave me a coupon to take a free picture. I asked her, “When is it?” and she said to me, “Look closely at the date, which is important!” and she gave me a piece of paper, and the date of Nov. 11 appeared.

I immediately woke up and started to pray to God and thank Him because I felt deeply in my heart that this date was special. When I prayed and analyzed the dream, I counted from Aug. 28 to Nov. 11, which was more than two months. It was incredible, and I thanked God because I knew my daughter would be healed on that day.

Irma and my husband woke up early, and I told them about my dream, and Irmita began waiting for that day with a lot of faith. I wanted to scream with joy. I thanked God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because they were going to heal my daughter.

On Nov. 10 at 2 p.m., Irma was activated, which means she was put on the waiting list for a kidney. It had been eight long months since she first got sick and was put on hemodialysis, and I was overwhelmed. I said, “Daughter, trust God. He said he’s going to heal you! Let’s see what happens! Tomorrow is Nov. 11.”

I got up in the morning and kept waiting for something big. I knew we were waiting for my daughter’s healing. I was cooking and listening to my Christian music, and Irma was in the living room, coloring a book, when the sliding door that is between the living room and the kitchen suddenly closed. Then I heard and felt a very loud noise of something falling from the ceiling to the floor, and it opened the door from the impact of the blow. I was not scared, but I didn’t see anything.

I asked Irma, “Did you hear that?” and she said, “No, mommy.” My mother (Irmita’s grandmother) was in her room and heard the loud noise as if something or someone fell, and she shouted, “Carla, what happened? Who fell?” and I said, “I don’t know what happened.”

That was a mystery. Maybe I will never know, but something happened. My husband arrived, and I told him what happened, and he said that it was strange.

I was still doing my chores in the house when the phone rang at 8:25 p.m. It was a call from the hospital. They said they had a kidney for Irma. We cried, and I told her, “Daughter, I want you to listen. This was the date that God gave us. It was not a divine touch or a miraculous healing as we asked, but God is going to heal you. This is His will, and he is with you.

That is the way God chose to heal Irma.

My daughter and the whole family prayed, and my pastor prayed for Irmita and said that God told you the date, so trust Him. We talked to Karen my cousin as well. She was also expecting that something big was going to happen. She is a believer in God, too, and I had previously shared with her all my dreams and told her everything that was going on. She also told me the same thing: trust God because He gave you the date.

At that time God sent to me the memory of what Jesus did on earth. To some He said, “Be healed,” and immediately they were healed. Others required Him to do something more, like the man blind from birth who is in the ninth chapter of the gospel of John:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.”

We must never lose faith, God does things as He wants and when He wants and with whom He wants. We just have to pray without ceasing and not stop trusting Him.

Irma went into surgery for her transplant on Nov. 15. We had been told that she was going to be in intensive care and it was going to take five to seven days for her to recover. Thankfully, she was only in intensive care a day and a night. The doctors said Irma did not have to be there because everything was working perfectly. As soon as they put in the kidney, it began to work in her body.

They said that it normally takes a minimum of two hours or as long as two days for the transplanted kidney to start working. On that same day in the afternoon, they did lab work, and everything was on track. The doctors said that she broke the record with the speed at which everything worked for her, and my husband and I thanked them and thanked God very much for having mercy on my daughter.

He provided the kidney the day. He said and he owns everything.  He also enables science and the intelligence of men.

The message we want to convey is that no matter how hard the trial or difficulty is, you should never stop trusting God and never stop praying in faith without ceasing, and God will extend his powerful hand to help you.

We want to thank all the people who have interceded for my daughter and our family, all of those who in one way or another have helped us. In the Bible it says that God puts in our hearts the desire to want to help and do things for others, and you had compassion for us. Even the 63,000 people in Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 13 who turned and faced the Stead Family Children’s Hospital and gave Irma and us the Iowa Wave, we thank you for your love and compassion.

Now my daughter is happy that she will be able to be healthy and be able to go to school and play and do everything she wants to do.

In the future, Irma wants to be children’s nurse to help other children and give them love. She is now recovering from surgery and is doing very well. Today we leave the hospital. Thank God, we will be at home with the whole family on this very special Thanksgiving Day.

Editor’s Note: Karen Alexander Ventura Perla of Oskaloosa and formerly of Perry, who started the GoFundMe page for her niece, testified to the miracle of Irma’s cure.

“I’m telling you that I am a witness to everything that happened,” Perla said. “It was amazing! Carla had told me all her dreams prior, so I called her on Nov 11. I was in Ohio for work, and we talked on the phone for several minutes and then said goodbye. She called me back five minutes later to tell me about the hospital call. It was just surreal. I had faith and believed, but seeing it all play out it was just so amazing. It also gave me so much appreciation for those people who decide to donate their loved ones’ organs or to be a donor. It is life changing.”

The family of the unknown kidney donor who helped to save Irma’s life received a heartfelt letter of thanks from the almost-11-year-old Irma.


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