The parents of two-week-old Kairo Spencer, who needs emergency health services not readily available in Antigua and Barbuda, have been informed that one of the country’s main charitable organizations – the Calvin Ayre Foundation (CAF) – has agreed to fund their travel expenses.
On Tuesday, a representative from CAF informed the parents – Jusette James and Tarik Spencer – that it would make a donation to cover emergency airlift and expenses for Baby Kairo in the amount of EC$62,327.00.
Both parents are said to brimming with optimism and have expressed gratitude for having received the donation they almost thought would have been impossible, after reaching out to various organizations.
Kairo was born prematurely on 16th January and was diagnosed with small bowel or intestinal atresia. The condition is one in which there is a narrowing of the segment of the intestine that connects the stomach to the large intestine. As such, Kairo has not eaten since birth and often regurgitates any food given to him via intravenous methods.
A CAF statement noted that all children with intestinal atresia and stenosis require an operation, and the exact type of operation differs depending on the location of the obstruction.
“With no on-island paediatric surgeon to perform this type of surgery, the family was faced with waiting for a visiting surgeon, before Kairo could be examined. The significant impact on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, would delay Kairo’s chances of survival, as his condition would become critical after two weeks without immediate medical intervention.
“When the CAF team met with the parents and uncle of Baby Kairo, it was a meeting punctuated by anxiety, hushed tones to disguise tears, but mostly of hope.
“Speaking on their feelings of their precious son’s condition, Jusette, a nurse by profession, said ‘I think that this (being a nurse) is the hardest part for me; seeing and knowing the drastic ends of both of it. I know first-hand that anything can happen, at any time. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with – I never expected to have so much difficulty having my first child. Some days I don’t know feel like I can cope with it – I don’t know what else to do.”
Tarik added that for him, this was a very emotional time seeing Kairo like this, struggling and seeing Jusette stressed out and crying every day. “I just want him to get through it and for him to be okay,” he said.
During the emotional presentation on Tuesday at the Ayre Group’s Canada Place Headquarters, the family accepted the donation in the amount of ES$62,327.00. This will cover Kairo’s flight by air ambulance to Jamaica’s Bustamante Children’s Hospital, the cost of surgery, and hospitalization.
CAF’s Executive Director, Corinna Delowsky, said, “We receive so many applications for assistance and the task of selecting the causes we support is very difficult. We would love to assist many more. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has posed an immense challenge and we have had to refocus towards pandemic relief. This new baby, who is only two weeks old, and his first time parents’ story really stood out to us. We hope our contribution gives Kairo a fighting chance.’”