It is not often that we can literally help save the life of a young person.
For 17-year-old Tereere Ioane, life on remote Christmas Island in the central Pacific is becoming more and more difficult, as breathing is more labored and she feels weaker and weaker.
Tereere has a heart murmur and requires urgent cardiac surgery, according to our volunteer cardiologist Dr. Steven Compton of Alaska Heart Institute, who discovered young Tereere while routinely checking patients on the island.
Dr. Compton says she was found to have a “severe mitral regurgitant murmur and mitral thickening, presumed to be caused by rheumatic fever.”
The great news from Dr. Compton is that Tereere’s problem “can be corrected surgically,” but she must reach help in time.
Tereere and her family live a subsistence life on this remote island near the equator in the Republic of Kiribati, and the kind of help that would save her is not available in her part of the world.
Members of a great hospital in Anchorage, Alaska … Providence Alaska Medical Center Hospital … have come forward, but we need donations for air fare, and it’s a long flight.
“Tereere is now living with her grandmother in the back of a small stall in the main village on Christmas Island where her grandmother sells small items like noodles and a few canned goods,” said Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid, Inc. (PIMA). “They cook their food over a little open fire at the back of the stall and sleep together on a narrow bed on the ground.”
“She is bright and enthusiastic and wants to be able to return to school, but her heart is failing her,” Carlton said. “We can help save Tereere but we must get her to the hospital where surgeons and their supporting staff can make it happen.”
Dr. Compton, together with cardiologist Dr. Pedro Valdes and the wonderful people at Providence Alaska Medical Center hospital in Anchorage, Alaska have offered to provide life-saving surgery and all hospital care and any necessary emergency department services, plus housing and meals for Tereere and her caretaker until she is able to return home.
With proper documentation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has already approved visa waivers so that Tereere and her nurse caretaker can come to the U.S. for Tereere’s surgery.
Total cost of airfare is $4,670 for Tereere and the Kiribati nurse who would accompany her as caretaker and translator. The cost for airfare from Christmas Island to Honolulu and back on Fiji Airways is $1,134.10 each and $1,200.90 each on Alaska Airlines from Honolulu to Anchorage and back.
“Please help make this life-saving effort happen by donating right here on our newsletter ‘donor’ button,” Carlton said. “We will publish the amount received and any surplus will be applied to our upcoming medical team visits,” he said.