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Rush to save baby

Eric Smith

Rush to save baby

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This is the story of baby Sebastien Adam Mitchell who was airlifted to the South American country of Colombia with the prayers of an entire family and a host of friends that the doctors can correct a major heart problem.
Swift action by the baby’s mother, Samantha, uncle Corey, aunt Renee Jones, grandmother Vernolyn and a medical team here and in Miami ensured that Sebastien was able to access the required medical care and urgently.
Shortly before the Colombians arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital last night along with the team from Island Care Ambulance service, Samantha, after hearing that the hospital her son was being admitted to was considered a fine facility, said it brought her some relief.
Indeed, it had been a story of pure joy for her on Sunday, July 27, when soon after midday, she gave birth to her first child. It was a happy occasion for the entire Mitchell family since her sister, Renee, had also given birth to her first child, also a boy, a week earlier.
“During the night, I noticed his lips were a little blue and saw the nurse look at him with concern. The following morning there was a real difference and the nurse took him down to be checked. She returned to state that he had to go to the Neonatal Intensive  Care Unit,” Samantha said.
That turned a period of jubilation into one of worry. All of this happened, Corey indicated, while the baby’s daddy, Wayne Austin, was ailing and bedridden with a medical problem, but still playing an integral role in the entire process.
Swift action
This was what got this close-knit family into swift action. They contacted a well-known hospital in Florida but ran into two roadblocks. The surgeons could not undertake the surgery immediately and then there was the issue of cost.
The baby’s uncle, Corey, said: “We wanted to send the baby to Jackson Memorial in Miami, but a number of issues arose which would have delayed the process. They referred us to Cardio Infantil in Bogota.”
He also said the cost was astronomical and could have ended up at US$1 million, and even with a reduction in expenses it would have been around US$565 000. There would also be the recovery period which was 60 to 90 days.
Last night Dr Kester Nedd, a physician at Jackson Memorial who had been helping to put the plans in place for the baby’s transfer from Barbados to Colombia, said it was all possible because of the Jipa Network of international health care professionals with operations in United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We negotiate everything,” he said.
The benefits of Colombia is that it not only has top-rated surgeons and support medical specialists, but the exchange rate of its dollar has made it a viable operation for Sebastien’s care.
It is still going to be a costly undertaking, in excess of US$200 000, but to save this little precious life, the money can be no obstacle. The family has played its part in getting some of the finances, so too has corporate Barbados with a number of businesses chipping in, as well as the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust.
An account has already been opened at the First Citizens Bank – No. 10000202218 – where members of the public can contribute to the cause.
Corey said: “We will use the funds required to help Sebastien through his illness. When he is fully recovered, any residual funds will be used to help other children in need of medical help.”
Holding out faith that it would all work out, the family gathered at the QEH yesterday afternoon expecting that the air ambulance would have arrived in Barbados around 5:30 p.m. However, that did not happen and it was around 8:10 p.m. when the three-member Colombian team of Dr Alejandra Rebellode, respiratory therapist Amgel Castro and nurse Alfania Prieto, along with the Island Care ambulance team of Tonya Hurley and Rached Gaskin, arrived in the Neonatal Unit.
It was another 70 minutes before they were back out and ready to make the trip to Grantley Adams International Airport before making the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Bogota.
Corey said that relatives would be taking turns in going to Colombia to spend time and visit both his sister and the baby in the coming months.