Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Borrowed time - Tosita Cunningham begs for a chance for her daughter

Published:Thursday | October 27, 2016 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston
Tessita Johnson needs surgery to lead a normal life.
Baby Tessita Johnson

MAY PEN, Clarendon:

It has always been Tosita Cunninghams' dream to some day be a mother. For years, she pursued this dream but knew the bitter taste of disappointment when her womb remained bare.

But then, there came the day at age 39 when she finally got confirmation that she was pregnant.

"The minute I delivered my baby, I knew something was wrong. They took a long time to take her to me," Cunningham told Rural Xpress.

She said she asked God for the strength to deal with whatever it was.

"The doctor told me my daughter had Down's syndrome ... three weeks later the paediatrician told me she had two holes in her heart, among other complications," she said.

Cunningham said upon hearing the news, she broke down in tears. "I was like, 'God I have come so far by faith and you won't take my child'... it was then I felt a calmness in my spirit and I knew it would be all right," she said.

Although Cunningham has been told that with each passing day her daughter, Tessita Dominque Johnson, is on borrowed time, unless she can get an open heart surgery, she is not losing hope or letting go of her faith.

"For so long I have wanted to be a mother and I love my daughter with all my heart. She is perfect in my eyes. I just want the chance to continue showering her with all the love I have for her," said Cunningham, while getting emotional in the middle of her speech. She made a valiant effort to fight back the tears, but that proved unsuccessful and she gave way to the emotions that overpowered her.

"Sorry about that ... but the thought of losing her just gets me emotional every time," she said, looking a bit more composed as she continued.

According to Cunningham, there are times when her daughter's tongue and fingernails turn purple and the least exertion of energy will have that effect.

"The doctor said her heart is always overworking, and that's why he recommended the surgery. She should have had it done from three months ago, but we just don't have the funds," said Cunningham.

The mother is giving thanks to a kind-hearted doctor who, upon meeting her and her daughter, felt so moved that he reached out to a group in New York, resulting in her being able to get the surgery done free.




"I am grateful for that aspect, but I still have to come up with the plane tickets for my daughter and myself, plus other additional expenses and after care cost ... I can't take up that offer yet," she said.

Cunningham, who works as a community health aide, has used up all her resources in clinic visits to the Bustamante Hospital for Children and other expenses for her daughter. She also shared that Tessita's father, although giving when he can, is also financially challenged.

Cunningham said she is a proud mother and is in no way embarrassed by her daughter's condition. She fiercely protects her like a lion protecting her cub.

"I do not live in denial about her condition and I challenge anyone who would want to hurt her. I live to see the day when she can play like any normal child ... which she will be able to do after the surgery," she said.

Cunningham, who lives in Oliver Gardens, May Pen, Clarendon, embraced Christ as her Lord and Saviour and is now a member of the Voice of Victory Ministry in May Pen, where she said the members embrace her and her daughter, giving them the emotional support they so badly need.