Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Desperate mother seeks help for her child

Published:Friday | November 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Petora Baker and her son, Nazario Smith.

A 33-year-old mother of five, Petora Baker, is seeking help for her one-year-old son, who suffers from brain damage.

Baker, who lives in Georges Valley, St Elizabeth, said she was left in a state of despair June last year, when doctors told her that young Nazario is brain damaged. She said she had no idea what this meant, but hoped it would not ruin her child?s life.

Though optimistic about the situation at the time, Baker had to stop working in order to meet Nazario?s and her other children?s needs. But Nazario?s condition is more than she had expected it to be.

She fears he might lose his sight, and noted he is also mute and unable to chew his food, so she has to liquefy everything she prepares for him. Making matters worse, the damage to his brain is causing him to have numerous seizures.

?I am afraid that he may be paralysed,? said Baker, as she wiped tears from her face.

?He is not able to chew, sit up, walk or do anything on his own,? she added, looking down on Nazario.

Just Wednesday night, Baker had to rush Nazario to the Mandeville hospital because of a high fever. Yesterday, she had to visit the University Hospital of the West Indies and, because she had no funds, she had to hitch a ride on a truck heading her way.

infantile spasm

Nazario?s condition, according to what the doctors told Baker, is known as infantile spasm, symptoms of which are sudden jerks followed by stiffening.

Often the arms are flung out as the knees are pulled up and the body bends forward. Each seizure lasts only a second or two, but they usually occur close together in a series.

Baker said doctors told her that her son?s condition was hard to treat, but prescribed valpoic acid, which helps ease the seizures.

She said he is on his fourth bottle of valpoic acid, each of which costs more than $4,000.

Noting that visits to the hospital have become more frequent, she said she was worried she might not be able to afford another bottle.

Another recommended treatment for Nazario?s condition is physiotherapy, which she said cost $4,500 per term, and he would have to go three times per day, but she has only been able to take him once.

?Honestly, I don?t know what to do because not many people will take the time to give him the attention he needs because of his condition, and though I need to work to take care of him, I just can?t,? explained Baker.

Baker said she got help previously from the National Commercial Bank (NCB) when her son needed to do a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on his brain that costs $43,000.

She expressed that after talking to someone at the PATH office about her need, letters were sent out and NCB came to the rescue. She has expressed her gratitude to them.

Her biggest challenge, however, is to give her son the medical attention he needs, as she is financially depressed, with no job, no savings anymore, and no health insurance.

?I just need some help. I have been trying to do this on my own by fighting and making sure he get the attention he needs, but I have no money,? she said.

Nazario?s next visits to the hospital are on the 2nd and 5th of December.

andrew.harris@gleanerjm.com