Thu | May 25, 2017

Portland community rallies around 9-year-old boy

Published:Thursday | May 21, 2015 | 5:00 AM
Dominic Brown now needs a new wheelchair.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Dominic surrounded with love from his mother – Dahlia Hyman (right), and gospel artiste Sista Sasha.
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BUFF BAY, Portland:

NINE-YEAR-OLD DOMINIC Brown is in for the fight of his life, but you would never know it by his disposition. He has won the hearts of all those who have come in contact with him through his ready smile and jovial attitude.

The Buff Bay, Portland, youngster is suffering from a condition known as spina bifida or 'split spine' - a condition which occurs when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close completely towards the end, just over the buttocks, during the first 28 days of development of a foetus in the womb.

Dominic was born with five toes in all and is unable to stand flat-footed. His condition is further complicated by severe pressure ulcers to both feet and buttocks, he also has several double rows of teeth. He wears diapers all the time as he is unable to tell when he needs to go.

Dominic, the youngest child for his mother, Dahlia Hyman, who keeps food on the table for him by selling in the market, is now in need of medical and dental assistance.

Although his mother, who also has 11 other children (all of whom are now grown), tries to meet his needs as best as she can, her limited resources cannot adequately take care of him.

Thankfully for her, others in the Buff Bay community have been rallying around the spirited youngster in trying to help.

Nadia Carby, principal of his school, Gideon Educational Centre in Buff Bay, has made it her duty to take his clothes home weekly, wash and iron them, and also takes him to get dressings at the hospital. At school, she changes his diapers and ensures he is fed.

The proprietor of the school gave him a full scholarship just to ensure he receives his education.

A concert was also held at Islington High School in St Mary to help with his expenses. However, it didn't yield much, but his mother remains grateful for the effort.

Gospel artiste Sista Sasha has also been campaigning for the youngster and, currently, she, with the help of friends in Florida, is packing a barrel with well-needed supplies for him.

Dominic's mother Dahlia responding to the outpouring of love from all concerned, expressed gratitude.

"My kids and I are very happy and grateful, as we are not able to care for him the way we want to or should. We love and appreciate the way people are rallying around him," Dahlia said.

She also said the support means a lot to her as it's a very difficult journey.

Yolandie Bailey who reached out to Rural Xpress on behalf of Dominic and his family shared how she got involved in his life.

"I have a little girl of my own who was sick a few years ago. Through small acts of charity, I was in receipt of a used wheelchair donated by friends from a foundation. I randomly took up my phone one day and called a friend in Portland and asked if they knew of a child in need of a wheelchair, and I was linked to his class teacher who informed me of his condition and how to get to the school. I visited to gift him with the chair on March 6," she shared.

But having met little Dominic, he tugged at her heart strings and just like all the rest who came in contact with him, she too fell under his spell and started doing everything she could to ensure he is taken care of.

According to Yolandie, the daily challenges in taking care of Dominic involves pushing him to school in his wheelchair, he misses school on Mondays as his mother sells in the market on that day and has no one to look after him; he changes several diapers per day because he cannot tell when he wants to use the bathroom, sometimes there is none and the teachers have to send to a shop to purchase a single diaper to change him. He eats very poorly, so the pressure ulcers are not healing as they should.

It is not certain whether a medical procedure can correct his condition, but he is now in need of surgery for the tissue damage as a result of the ulcers.

"It would be wonderful to see Dominic in a new wheelchair, to have the dental problems he has corrected and it would be nothing short of a miracle to see him get assistance that would allow him to walk," are the heartfelt words coming from Yolandie.

For her, his attitude even in illness has totally won her over and has her going the extra mile to see to it that he gets help.

"Dominic is very playful, jovial, very fun-loving. It's amazing that even when he's having a fever he's still smiling. He even cracks jokes at the other kids, and believe it or not, he actually dances when he hears music, nothing gets him down. At times, the ulcers are very painful for him, they make him sick," Yolandie shared.

Dominic's 'angel' is now reaching out to corporate Jamaica to step in and assist him with a new wheelchair, the surgery for the ulcers and enough diapers to take the burden off his mother for a while.

rural@gleanerjm.com