FACT CHECK: Viral Post Falsely Claims Shriners Hospitals Patient Ambassador Kaleb-Wolf De Melo Torres Passed Away
A viral Facebook post shared over 400 times claims Shriners Hospitals for Children patient ambassador Kaleb-Wolf De Melo Torres recently passed away.
Torres is alive and well, according to a Shriners Hospitals spokesperson.
Torres is a young boy who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that is characterized by fragile bones that easily break, according to the Cleveland Clinic. He has been treated at the Shriners Hospital in Montreal, Canada, since he was a newborn and serves as a goodwill ambassador for the hospital, according to the Montreal Gazette. His story has been featured in several of the hospital system’s commercials.
Now, a viral rumor is spreading that Torres has passed away, with one widely-shared post saying, “R.I.P Kaleb. I’m saddened over this news, I love seeing this sweet boy in the Shriners commercial.” The post goes on to explain that he allegedly died “after spending more than three years in hospice care at his South Whitehall Township home.”
Torres is “doing very well,” said Shriners Hospitals spokesperson Jennifer Tross in an email to Check Your Fact. Indeed, there is no mention of Torres’ alleged passing on the Shriners Twitter account or the Shriners website. The Shriners Hospitals website states he is “stronger than ever and is even learning to stand and walk on his own.”
The Shriners Hospitals Twitter account also shared a short video of Torres wishing Shriners International President Jim Smith a Happy Birthday on Feb. 27. (RELATED: Did A Kansas City Hospital Say Drinking Alcohol May Reduce The Risk Of Contracting Coronavirus?)
Kaleb is so excited to be the FIRST to wish Imperial Potentate Jim Smith a Happy Birthday, he sent us this video today to share! Join Kaleb by sharing this video and using the hashtag #HappyBirthdayJim ￼ pic.twitter.com/48If6wk54d
— Shriners Hospitals (@shrinershosp) February 27, 2021
“Kaleb is so excited to be the FIRST to wish Imperial Potentate Jim Smith a Happy Birthday, he sent us this video today to share!” reads the tweet. “Join Kaleb by sharing this video and using the hashtag #HappyBirthdayJim.”
Tross explained that “the story you may have heard or read involves another child with the same name and spelling and is not associated with Shriners Hospitals for Children” and that “our well known Kaleb’s story became confused with the other child.” She appears to be referring to a 12-year-old boy with the same first name who, according to The Morning Call, passed away Feb. 19, 2020, from a rare genetic disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.