BROCKWAY — Right now, the only thing 10-year-old Cody Kuntz of Brockway is really worried about is his continuing visits to the dentist.
Due to a chromosome disorder, Cody — the son of Dan and Barb Kuntz of Brockway — has no adult teeth to fill in when his baby teeth fall out, and he’s looking at needing a palate or braces, because his adult teeth won’t replace baby’s teeth he loses.
“I just wish my mouth was normal,” he said, adding, “I just hope when my growth spurt comes, I’m going to grow.”
His health challenges go beyond a chromosome disorder, however, which is believed to have been caused by Meckel’s diverticulum, a small pouch on the wall of the lower part of the small intestine (bowel) and is usually present at birth, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
A normal intestine doesn’t have this pouch, the academy said, and it occurs in about two percent of the population.
When Cody was born, he was out of his mother’s womb all of 15 minutes before he was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Dan said. Part of his intestine had somehow grown to his umbilical cord. Thus, doctors had to remove parts of his intestine.
“It was a big surprise,” Barb said, noting that the hospital said had it known Cody’s situation at birth, he would have been delivered via C-section and operated on immediately.
Since his birth, Cody has undergone four major operations, and hasn’t had any major setbacks since then. However, how his condition will affect him as he grows older can’t be charted at this time.
So far, however, he has defied the odds.
“They told us he could have Downs’ syndrome, that he would be mentally challenged,” Barb said. “So far, everything they’ve said, they’ve been wrong.”
Cody also added that as a student at Brockway Area Elementary School, he takes part in the school’s gifted program. He’s also active in wrestling and basketball, and has earned the rank of Webelos with Cub Scout Pack 40.
There are still unknown situations facing him. The long-reaching effects of his condition remain unknown at this time, and he may or may not be able to have children.
“We don’t know whether he’ll pass the gene on,” Dan said. “Hopefully, by the time he even thinks about that, they’ll have better technology.”
Cody may wish for the best for his teeth and his growth spurt, but at least one wish was able to be fulfilled by the Make-A-Wish Foundation: A trip to Disney World and Universal Studios this past May, which coincided with both the birthdays of Cody and his younger sister, Stephanie. They also have three older step-siblings, Megan, Chelsea and Aaron.
Cody learned his wish would be fulfilled March 10, when two representatives from Make-A-Wish came to his house to tell him the news.
“Two people came to the door, and I said, ‘Why are you guys here?’” he said. “My mom said they were from Make-A-Wish.”
And why did Cody want to visit Disney World? “I just heard a lot of good stories, so I figured I’d go there while I have a chance.” His dad added that Cody enjoys much of the programming on The Disney Channel.
Among the highlights of Universal Studios were The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride in 3-D, during which it felt like Spidey was flying directly over the riders, Cody said, as well as the Rock & Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, which was pretty loud.
“I could not even hear what my dad was saying,” Cody said.
He and Stephanie, along with the rest of the family, enjoyed the highlights of Give Kids the World, which partners with Make-A-Wish to help make their wishes all that more memorable while in Florida. They enjoyed the huge playground and pool, the constant flow of ice cream on demand, of course, and a trip to Sea World.
Cody said he also enjoyed the 90-plus degree weather, although the humidity was a bit much at times.
“There are no snakes or bees to bother you,” he said about the weather.
Cody’s great experience to Disney World also shows that like other Wish Kids and their families who have visited in the past, he had one more wish.
“I wish I could’ve stayed longer,” he said.