Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Distraught and hoping for a welcome turn of the tide, Nadine McKay is in dire need of assistance after discovering that her 23-month-old son, Aaron McKay, has been diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour, a rare brain tumour that mainly affects children.
The situation is worsened by the staggering $16 million required for the operation.
It all started in August last year when Aaron began vomiting and had a fever for four days. Nadine took him to see a private doctor who concluded that it was a chest infection.
"I wasn't satisfied, however, so I took him to the University Hospital of the West Indies on the 13th of August, where they did tests on him. At first, they said it was meningitis. After 10 days of antibiotics, I realised that he was becoming weaker on the left side of his body, so I took him for a CT scan and it turned out that he had a brain tumour," Nadine told The Gleaner.
"I freaked out and nearly died, because nothing was preparing me for that," she recalled.
They conducted a surgery the same week, which resulted in the size of the tumour being reduced.
"He wasn't able to walk fully. It was as if he was learning to walk again, but he was okay, and everything started to look brighter," she said.
But Aaron's condition took a turn for the worse last November when he got sick once again.
"I thought it was a regular cold at first. On the second of November, I left him with my sister while I went to work. She attempted to give him something to eat, but he gave it back and said he didn't want it. Shortly after that, he started to vomit and collapsed. He was just there unconscious," she said.
"They rushed him back to the hospital as he was also having seizures and wasn't responding," she added.
At the hospital, it was discovered that the tumour had increased in size and was bleeding. Nadine said the doctors told her they were not able to do anything for Aaron and claimed that he was going to die within 48 hours.
"I cried and cried. I could hear what they were saying, but I never listened. I just kept hope and my belief in God. One day when I was singing to him on the ward, he opened his eyes. I felt so relieved and happy at that point. They even took him off the oxygen, because he was ready to breathe on his own again. He has been unable to speak since, however, due to the severity of the tumour."
Since then, representatives from The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States have expressed confidence that the tumour can be removed there. However, the surgery would cost approximately J$16 million.
"I have written so many sponsorship letters and done everything that I don't know what to do anymore. I will never be able to afford this, because I have just graduated nursing school," Nadine lamented.
She added, however: "Even though it seems like every door is closing, I still believe in God and I will hold on to the life of my son. This is my child and I have a responsibility to believe for him and try my best to help. I know God is able."
How you can help
Anyone seeking to assist may send donations to Aaron McKay's account at the Bank of Nova Scotia, account number 932 719.