Kathryn Campbell was born in Ahmedabad, India somewhere around September 4th, 1984 and placed nearby an orphanage. It is likely that she was given up because she had an obvious condition called albinism (no skin color and partial blindness). Her family may have suspected that her condition was inauspicious (unlucky). We have only recently discovered that her albinism is only one symptom of a larger scale syndrome called the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, or HPS.
In 1988, when Kathryn was about three years old, my parents (Paul & Dawn) saw her picture in a pictorial registry of children available for adoption from India. Without speaking to each other, they both had a sense that she was the right one to adopt when they saw her picture. Thirteen months later after many days of emotional ups and downs, Kathryn was put on a plane with a social worker and arrived in Dulles Int’l Airport on May 2nd, 1989. My parents went to pick her up. Imagine the emotions of meeting for the first time! This was a little girl for whom we had prayed almost daily and hoped she would be ours! To this day, Kathryn considers that day to be her more important “birth” day.
My brother (Paul Burton) and I found it entertaining to have a very small girl (26 lbs at 4 yrs old!!) in the house who could only mimic you or speak a foreign language. Unfortunately, Kathryn showed evidence of severe malnutrition and also came down with Malaria within days of arriving in the US. There were many things for her and us to overcome, which should be told some day in more detail for God’s glory. He was at work as well, and we have watched Him literally transform her life more than any other I’ve ever seen. Kathryn officially became a US Citizen on September 11, 1991.
When she was about eight years old, God opened her heart to realize her need for Him. She gave her life over to Jesus Christ, asking Him to be her Lord and Savior. Her body was rescued from death at age 4; her soul was rescued from death at age eight, and God planned it all that way before the day she was born in India. Psalm 139:13,16 says For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
Kathryn went to several public schools early on that could specifically help her learn with her vision impairments. She home-schooled for some of that time as well, and then enrolled in Virginia Western Community College after she took the GED. Kathryn received her Associates in Applied Science degree from Virginia Western Community College in 2004 in Early Childhood Development, and graduated with a Political Science degree from Mary Baldwin College in April 2008.
In the last weekend of July 2006, Kathryn began experiencing intense abdominal pain. After one day of that my parents took her to the hospital. By that time she could barely stand from the pain. After a blur of events in the hospital, they decided to do a laparoscopy to see if they could find the source of the problem. Everything looked normal except for some yellowish substance in her abdominal cavity. That was thought to be leftover from a burst cyst but there was no evidence of that either. Her appendix was removed as a safety so they wouldn’t have to go in again if it was Appendicitis. After a few days of recovery, Kathryn was back home doing well.
After about a week, however, she was back in the hospital with the same pains. This time, the pain was intense and on-going. It was during this week that we did most of our internet research and realized that all of Kathryn’s symptoms perfectly matched the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome. She had crossed eyes (which were corrected with laser surgery when she came to the US), her eyes constantly shift slightly left and right, she bruises very easily, is very sensitive to sunlight and sunburn, is albino, and now has abdominal pain, which typically occurs between 18 and 30 years of age in people with this syndrome. HPS also causes the body to generate a waxy substance inside the body cavity called ceroid (SEE-Royd). The last symptom on the list is pulmonary fibrosis, which we are now aware of and can try to slow it down in the years ahead. According to statistics, HPS sufferers usually die in their 40s due to pulmonary fibrosis. From what we understand, treatments for this are somewhat limited at the moment, but research is frequently yielding new ways to help fight it. The National Institute of Health has a team working regularly with HPS patients.
We as her family are full of hope and thanksgiving for all the ways God has powerfully redeemed her life. She is a testimony of God’s power to redeem anyone in any circumstance. This blog chronicles the ups and downs of Kathryn’s life experiences.
~ Colin Campbell