Alana and Maurice Cole

Appealing fro help: Alana and Maurice Cole and another daughter, Jelise.

Four-month-old baby Jenique Cole is in need of life-saving open heart surgery.

Government, through the Children’s Life Fund, will pay the cost of the surgery at a hospital in Canada, her mother said.

However, the family has to pay for an air ambulance service which costs US$75,360 (TT$510,888).

Alana Cole, 36, said her family cannot afford this and is appealing to good Samaritans in Trinidad and Tobago to help raise funds to save her baby’s life.

Cole works in the laundromat of the St Ann’s Hospital and her husband, Maurice, is self-employed.

In a phone interview with the Express yesterday, Cole said Jenique was born on April 10 and, after being medically checked, she was discharged and they both returned to their Malick home.

Cole said, three months later, on July 15, Jenique began screaming in an uncontrollable manner.

“I ran to her and I realised she started turning blue and her screams suddenly turned into groaning as if she was in unbearable pain,” she said.

Cole said Jenique was rushed to hospital and after several tests and an echo cardiogram the doctors discovered she had a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia.

Baby Jenique has since been hospitalised at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre (EWMSC) in Mt Hope.

Cole said she and her family were gripped with fear when they were told there is no doctor in Trinidad who can perform the surgery to save Jenique’s life.

She said doctors explained that Jenique’s condition causes the oxygen level in her blood to decrease which results in her having excruciating pain, and makes her body go into seizures from the pain.

She said the doctors tried to assist by administering morphine for pain but they fear her body will get accustomed to the drug and no longer respond to the treatment.

Surgery in Canada

Cole said the Health Ministry and hospital officials gave them the good news that the Sick Kids Hospital in Canada is willing to take the case and perform the surgery.

“The Children’s Life Fund is willing to fund the surgery but because Jenique will have to be carried by an air ambulance to Canada, we are unable to bear this cost alone and are asking the generous and loving people of Trinidad and Tobago to help us,” said Cole.

She said only she will be accompanying Jenique to Canada.

Cole said she prays for Jenique’s complete recovery and that her baby girl can lead a healthy normal life without pain.

She said it is very traumatic seeing her daughter suffer.

Cole said she has been with her baby on the Just Because Foundation (JBF) ward of the hospital since July where she constantly monitors Jenique.

She said some days she moves around and appears okay but then, in an instant, she starts screaming and turns blue if she has a seizure.

“It had times I would go to the bathroom to bathe and then I would hear her scream. It is terrifying, I just want my baby to be better and hope our prayers for help will be answered,” she said.

Anyone wishing to assist can make a contribution to Alana Cole’s RBC Royal Bank bank account: 0000002778365.

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