Kevin Cullen

Family looking for a place to stay

Robert Moldenhauer, 14, getting his dialysis treatment at Children’s Hospital in the run up to Christmas.
Robert Moldenhauer, 14, getting his dialysis treatment at Children’s Hospital in the run up to Christmas.

The Christmas story is essentially about a family road trip, about a family finding themselves with no place to stay.

That’s where the Moldenhauers are right now. You may remember their story appeared in this space a couple of weeks ago.

Shohreh and Bob Moldenhauer crisscrossed the country before they could find a hospital willing or able to perform a heart and kidney transplant on their 14-year-old son Robert.


They ended up here in Boston, where doctors at Children’s Hospital said they could and would save Robert’s life. But the Moldenhauers’ insurance company in their home state of Wisconsin refused to pay for the operation, ostensibly on the grounds that they left the state. They left the state because no hospital in Wisconsin would do the operation. But since when does logic enter these equations?

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Here’s the good news on this Christmas Day: Dozens and dozens of people came forward and made donations, large and small, to help the Moldenhauers out.

They have run up enormous debt in the past two years, first in trying to find a hospital that would save Robert and since they arrived in Boston last spring.

Beyond that, people with particular expertise in these things, from the Ray Tye Medical Foundation to those who know how to navigate the byzantine world of insurance, have also come forward to help the Moldenhauers find the means to pay for Robert’s $250,000 kidney transplant.

Since he began dialysis at Children’s, his heart has strengthened enough that he no longer needs a heart transplant.


A couple of people pledged to make up the difference to pay for the operation.

“I don’t feel alone anymore,” said Shohreh Moldenhauer, who was often alone as her husband commuted between Wisconsin, where he worked, and Boston. “I don’t know how to thank so many people. So many generous people who reached out to us. It’s humbling, and overwhelming, and it shows how many good people there are.”

They are not going back to Wisconsin. Massachusetts provided them hope. Massachusetts is now their home. Bob Moldenhauer, an IT specialist, found a job at Northeastern University and starts the day after New Year’s.

They have to get out of the Yawkey Family Inn, which has been their local base since April.

“We’re looking for a house to rent,” Shohreh Moldenhauer said. “Some place close to the hospital. I am not going back to Wisconsin. Not after what they did to our family.”


Becoming residents of Massachusetts should mean the transplant will take place next month.

The man from North Carolina they met by chance in Maine last summer, who offered his kidney and turned out to be a perfect match, is waiting for the call.

They are not completely out of the woods yet, but they can see the end of the tree line.

Twenty miles south of Children’s Hospital, in Stoughton, Jean Fox is looking for an apartment to raise her grandson Nathan, who turns 3 next month.

Her story was in this space on Sunday, and, again, good people have come forward to help her. She has gone broke taking care of Nathan, resisting all the incentives to put him in a foster home, determined to keep together a family, a family of two.

She hasn’t been able to sell the house she has lived in for 24 years, a house now in foreclosure.

“It’s been hard, finding an apartment without credit,” she said.

She lost her house and her good credit by going broke taking care of a child that needed all sorts of time and attention.

Earning $27,000 a year makes her ineligible for state assistance.

Instead, she sits on waiting lists, waiting for help.

Two families, two boys, looking for a place to stay. It is the Christmas story.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him at @GlobeCullen.