Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 27th 2016 Contents Hope of a Miracle Foundation
turns ten in May
Ateenager and two young chil-
dren now all have one thing
in common, even though they
did not know each other before the
last six years.
Candice Clarke, 18, Adiah Despot,
five, and Zane Sookram, two, are all
beneficiaries of financial, technical
and medical support from the Hope
of a Miracle Foundation (HOAM).
The foundation, which will be cel-
ebrating its tenth anniversary in May,
offers assistance to chronically ill chil-
dren, whose parents or guardians
cannot afford to take them abroad to
have life-saving surgeries.
Each year, HOAM aims to assist
at least 15 children with monies col-
lected through donations from cor-
porate and private sponsorship.
Monies are also raised to assist families
in need of urgent medical care
through an annual fund-raising cam-
paign and small events.
This year is no different, and will
see the foundation s core members
busy putting together a gala event
titled The Masked Ball at the Hyatt
Regency on May 21.
Parents not only benefit from the
offsetting of the overall costs of their
children s surgeries or procedures,
but also with assistance for airfare
and accommodation. The foundation
has also assisted with local surger-
"Imagine as a parent you having
to hear that your child needs surgery
and can only be done abroad...one
knows the cost of this, at least
US$150,000, but because of our
alliances we get these surgeries at a
very discounted rate," explained
HOAM s President Cindy Schutters.
Although parents are asked if they
can contribute financially towards
their stay abroad, the arrangements
are not hinged on their ability to do
so or not.
Life-saving surgeries have been
arranged in less than two weeks,
depending on the severity of the case
and with no hindrances relating to
Through the years, the foundation
has formed important relationships
with medical and healthcare insti-
"We currently have an alliance
since we started with International
Kids Fund, a programme of the Jack-
son Health Foundation in Miami and
Fundacion Cardiointanfil, Bogota,
Colombia. The child s medical records
are sent up, they review the case and
inform us if the child can be assisted.
If yes, they will let us know the cost,
estimated time the child will need to
be away etc.
Once the child is accepted, we start
the process of organising
passport/visa (if needed), appoint-
ment dates, donations for airline tick-
ets, accommodation abroad, and all
needs relevant to ensuring the entire
process runs smoothly," said Schut-
She said each case was managed
by the foundation, which has four
core board members and several vol-
unteers. From the minute the child
is accepted, to when the child returns,
recuperates and is healthy enough to
return home, the group handles it.
Schutters noted the importance of
having available funds to be able to
send a severely sick child abroad for
surgery, which would more than likely
give him/her a second chance at life.
It could mean the difference
between the doctor s ability to stop
the progression of a condition or even
life and death. For Candice, Adiah
and Zane, the foundation s interven-
tion meant just that.
T&T Guardian shares the impact
the foundation has had on the lives
of its beneficiaries.
Here are some of their stories.
Continues on Page A30
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SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2016
From left, Cindy Schutters---president, Hope of a Miracle Foundation, Dianny Hernandez---vice president, Beatriz
Ramoutarsingh---secretary and Alma Rosa-Supersad---treasurer.
Five years ago, when baby
Adiah Despot entered into
this world, she brought tears
of joy to her mom's eyes.
Those tears quickly turned to
sorrow and frustration when,
within the first three weeks of her
life, she developed blood-filled
swellings on her bottom lip and
The swellings grew rapidly and
mom, Stacy Despot, grew scared.
Baby Adiah was diagnosed with
Heamangioma, a usually benign
tumour made up of blood vessels
that typically occurs as a purplish
or reddish slightly elevated area of
The condition not only affected
her lower lip and chin, but also her
The swelling caused her lip to
rupture and become infected,
eating away the surface of her
Mom would spend days meeting
with health ministry officials,
executives at the Children's Life
Fund and other organisations
which promised to assist. When
none was forthcoming, the family
took to the media.
That move marked the end of
their struggle to see Adiah treated.
Executives at Hope of a Miracle
saw the baby's plight and reached
"Aside from praying everyday, it
was the exact time I got back
hope, knowing there was an
organisation out there willing to
help us in any way they possibly
could," recalled Stacy.
Soon after arrangements were
made for the child to travel to
Miami and meet with doctors for
an evaluation. Through the
foundation, Despot and Adiah
stayed at the Ronald McDonald
House, which was close to the
Jackson Memorial Hospital, where
Adiah was to be treated. Stacy
said doctors had expressed the
fear that Adiah would bleed
profusely and decided that her
treatment would be done in
various procedures, rather than
Since then, Adiah has had three
surgeries and has another carded
for this year.
"Her improvement is remarkable.
We received the best hospitality,
and without Hope of a Miracle my
daughter would not now be able
to smile," said an emotional
Despot, who also expressed
gratitude for all that was done and
for future assistance from the
Zane's heart as big as his smile
Zane Sookram was born on
November 29, 2013, and diagnosed
with a heart condition known as
single ventricle heart defect.
He was just five days old when
his mom, Olivia Galera, was
informed of how ill he really was.
The left side of Zane's heart is
smaller than his right side. He also
has heart valve regurgitation.
Instead of four chambers in his
heart, he had three. His major
challenges were to regulate his
blood supply to all his organs and
keep his oxygen levels high.
In March 2014 he underwent
emergency surgery at the Holtz
Children's Hospital in Miami to
create an opening in the top
chamber wall of his heart. In
August 2014 he received his first of
two surgeries to regulate the blood
supply to his organs at the
Wolfson Children's Hospital in
Jacksonville. Both of these
surgeries were funded by the
Children's Life Fund Authority.
In May 2015, at a routine check-
up, it was discovered that the hole
created in his top chamber wall
was growing back. If left untreated,
the hole would close and there
would be nowhere for his blood to
pass through. This would more
than likely have led to cardiac
failure and death.
Zane's mom had exhausted their
chances of qualifying for assistance
through the Life Fund, which also
had a two-year waiting clause for
reapplications. Hope, though, was
on the horizon, as a brief meeting
with the foundation saw Zane back
at the Holtz Children's Hospital for
"Due to the nature of the
chamber wall regrowing, time was
of the essence as there was no
way of calculating how soon the
hole will close entirely. Hope of A
Miracle Foundation organised and
funded Zane's surgery. We are
eternally grateful to Hope of a
Miracle Foundation, for without
them our son would not have had
the life-saving surgery for him to
live and lead a normal a life as
possible," recalled Galera.
Zane is now an active two-year-
old boy preparing for his fourth
open heart surgery later this year.
This surgery which will be to sort
out his blood flow.
Adiah brings joy to her family
Adiah Despot, before surgery
(above), and after (below).
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