Who is Herbie helping?
Meet Our Hero: Aiswarya, Trinidad
Child’s condition: Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous drainage (TAPVD)
Treated: June 2011 through the Herbie Fund
In 2010 Jaimattie and her husband Lakeram celebrated 17 years of marriage. One of the biggest challenges they have faced as a couple was starting a family. After trying to get pregnant for several years, Jaimattie learned that she was suffering from a hormone deficiency, which prevented her from bearing children. The news was devastating, but overtime, she accepted it. It came as a huge surprise when, at 39 years old, she unexpectedly became pregnant. She carried her "miracle baby" to full term and delivered a healthy 8lb baby girl named Aiswarya on September 1, 2010 in their home country, Guyana.
For the first three months, Aiswarya appeared to be healthy. She gained weight and met all of her cognitive milestones. Jaimattie's family in Trinidad were anxious to meet the new addition, so she planned a trip to Trinidad to show off baby Aiswarya.
Shortly before their departure date, Jaimattie noticed that her daughter sometimes breathed quickly or heavily. She brought her to the local doctor who explained that this was normal for some young infants and that she would grow out of it overtime. Jaimattie wasn't convinced she was right. She traveled from one doctor to the next. Each of them echoed the first doctor's opinion or suggested it may be a chest cold, which would go away on its own.
When the family arrived in Trinidad, Jaimattie expressed her concerns to her sister who recommended they try a doctor in Trinidad for another opinion. The doctor there listened to Aiswarya's heart and immediately suspected a problem with her lungs or heart. She was admitted to the hospital for further testing.
Jaimattie's worst fear was confirmed when she learned that her daughter was suffering from a rare heart condition called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Drainage (TAPVD). Without surgery to repair the problem, 80 to 90 per cent of infants with this condition don't live to their first birthday. Jaimattie and Lakeram faced the reality that they could lose their baby at any time. Aiswarya's only hope for survival was surgery available only in Canada, the United States or India.
"After waiting so long for a child, it felt like my heart was breaking into 1000 pieces when the doctor delivered that news," says Jaimattie. "I was so scared for my daughter."
Aiswarya remained in hospital for the next nine days until it was time to return home to Guyana. Her parents began researching international patient programs and sent applications to all three countries including the Herbie Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Jaimattie was fortunate to have another sister residing in Toronto who assisted her with the application process. In April 2011, Aiswarya was accepted for treatment at SickKids and arrangements were made to travel to Toronto. Jamaittie said goodbye to her husband and traveled to Toronto alone with Aiswarya in May. On June 14, 2011, Aiswarya underwent open-heart surgery. After a few days of recovery, Jaimattie was able to hold her again. She recalls "It was like holding her for the first time all over again. It felt like I had a new baby."
A couple of weeks after the surgery, there was an obvious change in Aiswarya's personality. She was more energetic; she was feeding a lot better; and was smiling and laughing more than she ever had before.
Aiswarya will return home to Guyana later in July where they will celebrate with family and friends. This opportunity alone makes Jaimattie and her family feel very grateful to the Herbie Fund.
"It's overwhelming to now realize that my daughter can now live a happy life. Because of everyone that contributes to the Herbie Fund, I have my child again."