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Story Highlights

  • The joy which first-time father, Hoshane Bailey, experienced following the birth of his son, Jaheim, on November 1, 2015, was short-lived after learning that the child had a heart problem requiring immediate surgery for him to live.
  • Jaheim was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA), a condition characterized by abnormal blood circulation.
  • A cardiology team at the Bustamante Hospital, affiliated with and trained by global charity organization, Chain of Hope, promptly referred Jaheim’s case to its United Kingdom (UK) office for assistance.

The joy which first-time father, Hoshane Bailey, experienced following the birth of his son, Jaheim, on November 1, 2015, was short-lived after learning that the child had a heart problem requiring immediate surgery for him to live.

Jaheim was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA), a condition characterized by abnormal blood circulation.

“We were (initially) told that he had jaundice; (the doctors) never knew he had a heart problem until a few days later. He looked so ‘blue’ because (his) blood was not circulating properly. When the doctor told me at the Spanish Town Hospital that he had a heart problem, we had to move him to the Bustamante Hospital for Children,” he recounts.

The news was, however, further compounded when the 23-year-old livestock farmer from Guys Hill in St. Catherine also learned that the complex operation, which entailed repositioning of the body’s two main blood vessels, could not be performed in Jamaica.

A cardiology team at the Bustamante Hospital, affiliated with and trained by global charity organization, Chain of Hope, promptly referred Jaheim’s case to its United Kingdom (UK) office for assistance.

Chain of Hope is a registered UK charity that has been collaborating with a network of medical experts globally for the past 20 years to administer life-saving healthcare, particularly for children in developing countries, including Jamaica, who are diagnosed with chronic heart conditions.

Chain of Hope UK convened an emergency Medical Board meeting of internationally-renowned cardiac experts to assess the case. Within two days of the referral, the Board gave approval for four-week old Jaheim to be flown to the United Kingdom to undergo surgery.

“I was so excited to know that (although) I (couldn’t) find the money for this operation, someone (was) there to help me out,” Hoshane says.

Jahiem and Hoshane, accompanied by senior cardiologist at the Bustamante Hospital, Dr. Charmaine Scott, arrived in the UK in December 2, 2015, where the youngster was admitted to the Harley Street Clinic in London.

The operation was successfully performed seven days later by a team headed by Chain of Hope Trustee and lead cardiac surgeon, Professor Victor Tsang.

Noting that such a surgery should have been done much sooner after birth, Professor Tsang says at that point, almost five weeks after birth, Jahiem’s condition had become an emergency.

“The pressure in the lung artery was quite high, (which) made the operation quite challenging. (Additionally) the process of looking after the baby after the surgery was also very difficult,” he explains.

Professor Tsang, who has performed numerous heart surgeries on children in Jamaica over the last 10 years through Chain of Hope, says Jahiem is now in good condition and has a bright future.

He says, over the short term, Jahiem will continue to receive medication that will help to reduce the pressure in his lung arteries and, with time, will develop normal blood circulation that will enable him to have a healthy childhood.

In fact, Hoshane says Jahiem is already showing positive signs of recovery, as evidenced by his very active and playful disposition. “He is moving (around) a lot; he is just very active, crying and everything,” Hoshane says joyfully.

Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, who visited the father and son in the hospital ahead of their return to Jamaica, says she was very happy with the improvements in young Jahiem’s health.

“What was really impressive for me is seeing how he bonded with his father, who came with him because his mother was not able to come; and then to see how the persons who cared for him at the Harley Street Clinic were interested in him…(it) was just amazing,” Mrs. Ndombet-Assamba says.

The High Commissioner acknowledges that Jahiem’s case was special because of the urgency of his situation.

“They (Chain of Hope) have helped hundreds of Jamaican children before. But because of the type of problem Jahiem had, the surgery had to be done within six weeks of the child being born,” she adds.

Hoshane has high praises for the support provided by Chain of Hope, and the opportunity they have afforded Jahiem to live a healthy and normal life.

“I thank them a lot for this opportunity to know that (although) I couldn’t find the funds to get this operation done,…it (was) done and I (didn’t) have to pay for (it),” he adds.

Chief Executive Officer of Chain of Hope, Emma Scanlan, says the organization feels a deep sense of satisfaction to have been able to help Jahiem and his family.

“There are so many more children in Jamaica (who) need treatment. It is our goal and dream that by training a world class Jamaican cardiac team, many more children can be treated locally, in the future, at the Jamaican children’s heart centre which is being constructed at the Bustamante Hospital for Children,” she adds

Jaheim and Hoshane returned to Jamaica last week, and the youngster has since been reunited with his mother, who has not held him in her arms for more than two months.

 

For Hoshane, who says he grew up without a father, the experience with Jaheim has created a special bond between them which he says will forever cherish as he works to give his son the best opportunities in life.