Mother seeks help for toddler to undergo urgent heart surgery

2-year-old Tafari Jacobis

A Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) family is seeking the public’s assistance for a 2-year old to undergo an urgent heart surgery which could save his life.

The family of Tafari Jacobis of Wisroc, Wismar, Linden, has to raise $5 million for the surgery which is expected to be conducted in Cuba.

The toddler’s mother, Latoya Jacobis, who is also a mother of two other children, explained that the toddler has a hole in his heart, along with other complications.

She stated that she started to notice strange symptoms in the child when he was just 7-months-old and was later diagnosed with various heart conditions.

“When he was 7-months-old, I started to observe that he used to be crying, steady crying; and not just the crying alone, when he cry his skin used to be wet…his eyes does be rolling and like loss of consciousness. I used to get scared when I see the thing happening to he,” the mother related.

This prompted her to take him to the hospital to see a paediatrician, where she was told that nothing was wrong with the child and that he would outgrow the symptoms.

She noted, however, that she observed that her son was showing slow signs of development when he was around 9-months-old.

“I went back to the hospital and it was the same thing I hear from the doctors…When he was 11 months, again I went back for the third time to the hospital with the same cries,” Jacobis said.

She noted that her son’s ring went missing from his finger and out of fear that he might have swallowed it, an X-ray was conducted.

“Fortunately for me, he didn’t swallow the ring. So, with the X-ray that he did…they were supposed to look and see what was going on with this child. But they never paid attention to what I was telling them…I told my husband something wrong with this child. This boy ain’t walking, this boy ain’t making attempts to creep, nothing. So, I told him that look, I will go privately to see what going on with he.”

She said her son was later diagnosed by Doctor Steve Mark after she visited his private clinic. The doctor, she noted, detected a heart murmur.

“So, he explained the heart murmur to me, he told me that maybe there’s a hole in the child’s heart but he said in order to confirm it I would need to do a echo (echocardiogram). I went, I did the echo and the report came back and it show indeed he have a hole in his heart,” the mother related.

She explained that she was told by health professionals to take him back when he reaches 18 months to examine whether the hole had closed but unfortunately, it was still there.

The mother further stated that she was told that the child was severely affected by the symptoms such as lack of oxygen, his body turning blue and his fingers darkening.

Jacobis said she visited various private hospitals to receive different opinions and was told by a doctor from Brazil that her son also has another congenital heart defect.

“He explained that it is four problems that going on in the child’s heart…he said there’s a blockage to one of the main artery…the hole…that is the main reason that cause him not to get enough oxygen in his body…if he wants to move from point A to point B he got to depend on us.”

Jacobis said her son was attending cardio clinic but was told that there was nothing health professionals can do at this time.

“Only thing that could actually help this child now is surgery, and the type of surgery that he has to do they don’t have any paediatric cardiologist in Guyana. They said they have cardiologist yes, they have heart surgeons for adults but not children. So they prepared a medical report that I can able to maybe see which hospital. I tried reaching to the US, but the prices there are too expensive…so that is why I choose to make contact with Cuba,” she explained.

The child is expected to leave for surgery by early December once all goes well. Jacobis said the family has since hosted several fundraisers, including a radio telethon but did not manage to raise the amount of money needed. She noted that a Citizen’s Bank Account set up to assist the child had approximately $600,000 as of Friday.

“I, as a mother, I never thought that I would be in a situation like this. I was trying to do things on my own, hoping that I could’ve able to raise the money but when I realise, I said look, I will have to swallow pride in order to try to save my son’s life…many days when he’s feeling pain it’s like I’m feeling the pain too…he can’t do anything for himself. I does got to try to keep him from not crying and overworking himself,” she said.

Persons desirous of making donations can do so via Citizen’s Bank Account # 218939594.

“I’m just asking for assistance in whatever way financially that we can able to reach the target in order to take him, so we can able to get a successful surgery. So whatever donation would be appreciated,” Jacobis said.

She said the family has also received assistance in raising funds from Regional Chairman Deron Adams. The Health Ministry is also expected to come on board with providing assistance. (Utamu Belle)