Karen’s Story

Meningitis Diagnosis

Insurance or not, if you want freedom and mobility you have to pay for it. It is a very frightening and uneasy feeling to doubt whether you can afford what you cannot survive without. CaringForKaren.com is a collaborative effort of a community of people linking arms to support Karen Crespo. There is strength in numbers and together we can rally to embrace Karen and her family as we continue to fight for her independence.

After years of hard work in nursing school, Karen Crespo was finally reaping the rewards as a Registered Nurse at a prestigious Los Angeles hospital. In 2011, Karen was diagnosed with a severe form of bacterial meningitis, meningococcemia, a life-threatening illness. In order to save her life, doctors eventually had no choice except to have all four of her extremities amputated. Due to this debilitating illness, Karen suffered a great loss to herself and to her quality of life — something we all take for granted until it is gone.

With a less than 10% chance of survival, doctors and nurses were preparing family and friends for what they presumed inevitable. An “Angel” was watching over Karen as she survived 2 mild heart attacks, a blood clot in her brain, kidney failure, and respiratory failure just to name a few.

The bacteria was so aggressive Karen lost her nose in its entirety, part of her right ear which eventually grew back, some of her hearing in both ears, her hair, her entire top lip that was saved with reconstructive surgery, and has skin grafts on almost every part of her body. When she finally opened her eyes after being in a coma for 15 days everything had changed. She and her loved ones realized that life would no longer be the same and that the road ahead would be long and challenging

Prior to this illness, Karen had a heart full of dreams. Today, Karen has a heart full of courage.

Post Surgery

After five months in the ICU, Karen moved in with her mother who had to leave her job to be Karen’s full time caregiver. Even with insurance, Karen still has many uninsured illness-related expenses such as: modifications for a vehicle since she recently learned how to drive again, accessible modifications to the kitchen and bathroom, wheelchair accessibility in and out of the house, speciality doctor visits, and tooling aids to help with daily tasks. Karen hopes to return to work one day, but all these expenses will not be something she can financially handle even with returning to work.

A New Challenge

Recently Karen was faced with yet another challenge, when her brand new state of the art prosthetic arms were stolen right off her front porch. An out of state company shipped the package, containing Karen’s brand new prosthetic arms along with other prosthetic supplies, which valued over $80,000 to her home. Unfortunately, the shipper didn’t ask for any insurance or signature required on the package as well as no fair warning that the arms were even being sent.

Due to the fact that no signature was required and Karen had no prior knowledge of the package being sent, the box was left by the shipping company on the front porch when no one was home. The alleged thieves not only took items that were high in cost, but more importantly very valuable for Karen’s future and independence. It is impossible for another person to use or even resell the prosthetic arms because they were especially fitted and customized during a twelve month period, for Karen alone. No one ever returned the stolen package despite the many efforts made by Karen, her family, and friends to get the box returned back to her home.

Caring for Karen

To help offset such expenses, this website has been created in Karen’s honor to help her regain her stolen prosthetics and independence.

Karen is in good spirits and is filled with optimism as she continues to strive to become fully independent. We are all inspired by her strength, dedication, and perseverance–please keep Karen in your prayers. With the support of her family and friends, we can help Karen reach her dreams and inspire in her a flame of courage that will burn brightly through the challenges that lie ahead.