We Can Help Save Tereere; Must Get Her To Hospital

It is not often that we can literally help save the life of a young person.

Tereere Ioane, 17, needs life-saving heart surgery.

Tereere Ioane, 17, needs life-saving heart surgery.

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.

They See the Miracle Unwrapped…

Priceless - When 7 year-old Namaua Tebau from Christmas Island in Kiribati had her final club foot cast removed at Shriners Hospital in Honolulu two weeks ago, it was overwhelming for her. Overwhelmed, too, was Shriners Care Coordinator Leona Pereza, shown here holding Namaua.

Priceless – When 7 year-old Namaua Tebau from Christmas Island in Kiribati had her final club foot cast removed at Shriners Hospital in Honolulu two weeks ago, it was overwhelming for her. Overwhelmed, too, was Shriners Care Coordinator Leona Pereza, shown here holding Namaua.

For six months, Shriners Hospital care coordinator Leona Pereza worked with little 7-year-old Namaua Tebau as the child’s club foot was gradually turned forward by doctors and nurses at the hospital in Honolulu.

Namaua was the first child from the central Pacific nation of Kiribati to be cared for at Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu, sponsored by us at Pacific Islands Medical Aid and Mending Kids International of Burbank, California, and with Shriners providing all the medical care.

After six months of constant care, Namaua has now returned home to Christmas Island, walking on her own.

The moment Namaua’s final cast was removed created powerful emotions for Namaua and Leona.

Here is Leona’s account:

By Leona Pereza

“I wish I could have videotaped this, here was a moment worth a thousand words. When the cast finally came off and the foot was cleaned, she looked at it in awe and wonder like seeing a miracle unwrapped.

She flexed it up and down slowly, looked at it from all angles, then put both feet together and flexed them both in unison. Then she hung them over the side of the table and flexed them again, slowly. All the while never saying a word.

Finally, when she looked up her entire face was lit up and a priceless smile spread from ear to ear and her eyes sparkled!

This was reward and affirmation enough for all of us as to why we do what we do, and inspiration to drive each day to do more and do better”