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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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Baby Israel needs life-saving surgery

Israel John
Israel John

Israel John is 12 days old and facing a ticking clock which will determine whether he will be able to live a full life.

If he doesn't receive urgent surgery within the month, doctors have told his parents, Jenesis Scoon and Deron John, he will not survive.

Born at 7.18 am on May 3, doctors did not realise anything was wrong during birth and Scoon, 19, had an uneventful pregnancy except for two instances of high blood pressure.

It was only during the hours after his birth, when nurses checked him, they found a murmur in his heart.

Doctors ordered further tests and within the day, they told Israel's parents their baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome with mitral valve and aortic valve atresia.

They might have well had spoken gibberish.

John and Scoon didn't fully understand the prognosis but what was clear as their baby's bright brown eyes was that if he didn't get access to life-saving surgery, he would die.

Doctors immediately put the baby on medication telling his parents the medication would only likely work for two weeks, before Israel's body began repairing itself. That was two weeks ago.

"I speak to him every day. I speak life to him. I tell him he will live," Scoon said in an interview.

Scoon hasn't fully come to terms with the situation, saying she doesn't know how to feel, but John says it is important to them both to do all they can to save their baby.

"Holding him was the best feeling in the world. Having him in my hands and he opened up his eyes and looked at me that was the best feeling but knowing he needs surgery or will die? I think it is possibly the worst thing that happened to me in my life. We don't know what to do but we are trying still. We want to do everything possible. We are not going to just sit down, we are going to try our best to do everything we can. I think it will hurt more if we don't."

The couple were presented with a few options but met roadblocks to all but one.

An attempt to source funding from the Children's Life Fund ended when they were told the hospitals used by the fund declined to perform the surgery.

The heart transplant option saw no progress as the US only approves transplants for their citizens and TT does not have the medical professionals to perform the surgery.

The third option, a series of surgeries to place valves in Israel's heart so that he might live would cost the couple approximately $250,000 each and the final option is to take Israel home to live out his final days which can range from a few days to a few weeks.

The couple contacted two hospitals in the US–Sibley Heart Centre in Atlanta and the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Florida– and have received positive responses about the surgery. They started a Gofundme page to raise money and also plan to host a barbecue and a football tournament. They are also appealing to the public for help so that their baby can survive.

Anyone who would like to assist can contact Jenesis Scoon at312-1185.


What is Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome?

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly. It goes on to say that "in babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart cannot pump oxygen-rich blood to the body properly.

"During the first few days of life for a baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the oxygen-rich blood bypasses the poorly functioning left side of the heart through the patent ductus arteriosus and the patent foramen ovale. The right side of the heart then pumps blood to both the lungs and the rest of the body.

"However, among babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, when these openings close, it becomes hard for oxygen-rich blood to get to the rest of the body."

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