By Bejay Browne
AN 11-DAY-OLD baby girl was transported to Israel on Friday to undergo a life saving operation paid for by the ministry of health.
“An ambulance collected Zoe from the hospital at lunchtime; she will then fly in an air ambulance to Israel for her treatment. She is being accompanied by a doctor as her parents are not able to travel with her,” ministry of health spokesman Demitris Constantinou said on Friday. She will be treated at the Schneider Children’s Medical Centre in Haifa.
The baby’s Indian father, John Dhull, whose visa recently expired was granted a one month re-entry visa to Cyprus by the immigration authorities at the last minute on Friday, but not in time to board the flight with his baby.
“I will fly to Israel on the first available flight either tomorrow (Saturday) or Sunday. I want to be with my little girl,” he told the Cyprus Mail:
The baby’s mother is unable to travel as she is still recovering from a caesarean and her visa has also expired.
Following a report in Tuesday’s Cyprus Mail outlining the baby’s plight, Minister of Health Petros Petrides stepped in to save Zoe’s life. She was in a critical condition with a serious heart defect at the Makarios hospital in Nicosia.
Her distraught first-time parents – 31-year-old former student John Dhull and Virginia Taguinay, 32, from the Philippines – had no private medical insurance and were unable to obtain a state medical card, which would have covered the baby’s medical expenses, as their visas had expired. They were given less than two weeks to raise the thousands needed to pay for a life-saving operation until the ministry of health on Tuesday said it would cover the costs of the treatment.
The operation will be performed by a specialist team in Israel. It is not possible to carry out the operation in Cyprus as a specialist unit is needed.
Zoe was born at Paphos general hospital on June 25 and weighed a healthy three kilos. Her parents had no idea their baby had any health issues until two days after she was born.
They were informed that she had severe breathing complications caused by a heart defect.
The baby was then rushed by ambulance to the Makarios hospital in Nicosia.
According to the hospital’s paediatric cardiologist, Dr Andreas Rousounides, who was treating Zoe, the baby’s pulmonary valve is almost completely closed and she is being kept alive by medication at present, but this only works for a short period of time and her condition could deteriorate at any time.
The procedure which is expected to be carried out will see a balloon placed inside to open the area and Rousounides said the child will be able to lead a normal life.
Constantinou said: “As soon as the baby arrives in Israel she will be taken to hospital and undergo a series of tests to determine the extent of her problems. The family will then be consulted to give approval for the treatment and surgery needed.”
He added: “We will have more news next week.”
In the meantime, Zoe’s emotional parents expressed their gratitude to the ministry of health and the Cyprus Mail for giving their child the chance of a healthy life.