Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
"When reality struck, I felt numb, grief stricken and lost. I had never felt pain like that before. I never even knew pain of that magnitude existed," Nadine Mckay told The Gleaner as she shared how excruciating it was to watch her two-year-old son die in her arms.
Aaron McKay, Nadine's 23-month-old son, passed away on Saturday, January 19. In August 2012, he was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour, a rare brain tumour that mainly affects children.
What made the situation even worse was the fact that the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States expressed confidence that they could have the tumour removed, however the surgery would cost a staggering J$16 million, which Nadine could not afford as she had just graduated from nursing school.
Hospitalised in November
Aaron was admitted to the University Hospital of the West Indies in November 2012 due to the severity of the tumour. On Friday, January 18, the situation worsened as he began to have difficulty breathing.
"He was breathing heavily in spite of the fact that he had on the oxygen. His oxygen saturation went down to like 30, and so they started CPR resuscitation because his heart began to stop beating," Nadine said.
"I was not coping very well, I just remember waking up in the Accident and Emergency Department because they said that I had fainted. When I woke up, I had a headache that was second to none it was so horrible. I wasn't even able to see very well because the light in the room was also hurting my head. I just couldn't stop crying," she recalled.
Nadine said the doctors recommended that she go home as they didn't want her to go back on the ward for the rest of the night.
"I slept most of the night because of the medication they gave me. My husband and family members stayed on the ward with the baby, though. The Saturday morning, my husband came for me, and I was feeling a little bit better. When I woke, I was just anxious to get back on the ward because I wanted to see my son.
"When I reached, I felt so relieved because he was still alive, but I was still feeling so much pain," she added.
However, having got to the ward, the doctor had bad news for her. She was told that Aaron's condition had deteriorated significantly over the course of the night. Nadine stayed by the bed, though, watching over her beloved son.
"It was at 4:30 p.m. when I was holding him, he opened his left eye, and by the time I was supposed to put him back down, he took a deep breath, like he was gasping for air, and then his heart stopped beating. It was his last breath. That was it," Nadine recalled.
"I laid him down instantly and the nurses started to perform CPR. I stood there scared and praying, hoping and begging the Lord to let him be okay."
Unfortunately, the miracle for which she was praying did not happen. A doctor soon told her that Aaron had died.
"After they told me he was dead, I went back around there and I lifted him again, took off his clothes, and started to tidy him up. After I was finished, the nurses allowed me to hold him as long as I wanted to. I just wanted to hold him again. I was thinking if I held him and prayed, then he would come back alive. I was just hoping as I could not let him go," Nadine said.
She continued: "I don't know. I just wanted to hold him because even then and there I believed that God could have brought him back. I just held him in my hands to let him know that mommy and daddy are still here."
Although death has robbed her of Aaron, Nadine believes she will be reunited with him in the afterlife.
A thanksgiving service for Aaron's life will be held next Sunday at the Apostolic Church of Jamaica Bethel Temple on Central Avenue in Kingston.