By Bejay Browne
A FOUR WEEK old baby girl is due to arrive home today following a life-saving operation carried out in Israel, paid for by the health ministry.
According to the baby’s mother, Virginia Taguinay, 32, Zoe is due to board a Cyprus Airways flight bound for Larnaca airport this morning at 7.30am.
Zoe was born at Paphos general hospital on June 25. 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. Zoe’s distraught first-time parents 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.
Following a report in the Cyprus Mail outlining the baby’s plight, Health Minister Petros Petrides stepped in to save Zoe’s life.
Ministry spokesman Demetris Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: “The minister is very happy to learn that everything went smoothly and he wishes all the happiness in the world to young Zoe. He also passes on his wishes for a long and healthy life. He is also very glad that the ministry was able to help to save a child’s life. “
Zoe underwent a cardiac catheterisation procedure on July 7, performed by a team of specialists at the Schneider Children’s Medical Centre in Haifa. It is not possible to carry out the operation in Cyprus.
The baby’s Indian father, 31-year-old John Dhull, whose visa recently ran out, was able to travel to be with his daughter after being granted a one month re-entry visa to Cyprus by the immigration authorities at the last minute.
Zoe’s mum remained in Cyprus as she was unable to travel because she was recovering from a caesarean section and her visa has also expired.
The baby’s mother says she is elated with the news and can’t wait to hold Zoe in her arms.
“My husband has been both a mother and father to Zoe during her stay in Israel and he has been fantastic. I have been able to watch her daily via Skype and I can see how well she is doing. We can’t express our thanks enough to the minister for giving this chance to our baby,” she said.
Once Zoe and her father arrive in Cyprus, she will be taken immediately to Makarios hospital for a check up with the hospital’s paediatric cardiologist, Dr Andreas Rousounides, who was treating Zoe prior to her trip to Israel.
“We are hoping she will be able to come home with us to Paphos the same day,” said Virginia.
Zoe’s mother said that doctors in Israel were satisfied with the baby’s progress and hoping that she will not need any further operations in the future.
The family has expressed their wish to meet with the minister of health to thank him personally for his help.