EASTON, Maine — Despite being at the Boston Children’s Hospital on Aug. 13 — the first day of school at Easton Elementary — 8-year-old Paige Lento was able to use the Skype application for a few hours, stay connected with her third-grade teacher Rebecca Allen and classmates, and be part of the excitement.
“It was her second week of being in the hospital in Boston,” said Paige’s father, Pete Lento. “She was having some breathing issues, and the doctors were trying to drain extra fluid out of her body. She’s on a waiting list for a new liver and new kidneys.”
Paige has Jeunes syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the way a child’s cartilage and bones develop.
“She has a compromised chest,” explained Lento. “She has titanium rods in her chest, and Paige gets operated on every six months or so. They stretch out her rib cage so that she has room to breath. Along with that comes the liver disease and kidney disease. She’s a pretty tough little girl.”
Paige “Skyped” with her class a few times last year, so the family and school knew how to make the connection happen.
“My wife, Kristina, thought it would be a good pick-me-up for Paige to be able to see her classmates,” said Lento. “They actually faxed work down so she could participate in class activities just like she was there. She had homework to work on, and she even had a snack in her hospital bed the same time the kids had a snack in class.
“Paige Skyped for a couple of days in a row so she could stay on top of things,” he said. “She was very excited to see everyone especially coming back from summer vacation. Paige gets better being around people and having that interaction. Even though it was through Skype, it was still interaction that helped her mentally and emotionally prepare for school.”
The Lentos returned home from Boston on Aug. 16, and Paige was able to attend school the following week.
“In addition to going down every six months to have her chest opened up, Paige has periodic appointments with the transplant team,” said Lento, “so 6-10 times during the school year she has to miss school. When she’s up to it, she loves to Skype because it’s just one more piece of home that she gets to have while she’s away.
“The school has been amazing. They Skype with us, they sent a tutor to our house last year to work with Paige, and they do everything they can to help,” he said. “Easton is an amazing community all around. It’s a very tight community, and they’ve been very supportive of Paige and everything that she goes through.”
Editor’s note: Since the school year began, Paige has experienced kidney failure, and as a result has started dialysis treatments. She will require treatments three times a week from now until the transplants become available. A benefit supper and auction for the Lentos will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Central Aroostook Junior-Senior High School cafeteria. Dinner, which will consist of beans, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad and gingerbread, will be served from 4-6 p.m. by donation with a silent and live auction to follow at 6 p.m.