Dominican Republic child’s heart repaired by a pair of caring hearts
Brenda Small, Rotary sponsor, with her daughters Jaime, 10; Kylie, 7; and Delaney, 4; along with Raimon Made (center) from the Dominican Republic, his mother Inocencia Tibrey (back left); Leonard Bailey, MD, chief of surgery for Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital; and Chad Everett, spokesperson for the Rotary’s Gift of Life program, pose for a group photo.
Raimon Made and his mother, Inocencia Tibrey, from the Dominican Republic, both felt a world of difference on August 4, just four days after Raimon went through heart surgery to repair a birth defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. Thanks to the help of several charitable people, 9-year-old Raimon can look forward to a lifetime ahead of him, instead of the death sentence Tetralogy of Fallot hangs on those diagnosed with it by the age of 21.
Raimon had always dreamed of being a baseball pitcher, but now he may have had a change of heart.
“I want to be a doctor to save other sick children,” says Raimon.
“He wants to go to medical school now,” Ms. Tibrey said through an interpreter on Friday, August 4, as Raimon was leaving the hospital. “He told me last Friday that he wants to become a cardiologist. He was born with a heart problem and now he wants to help other people get well like Dr. Bailey helped him get well.”
The two-and-a-half-hour surgery on Monday, July 31, was made possible by Leonard Bailey, MD, chief of surgery for the Children’s Hospital, who donated his services, and a host of others including Brenda Small and Chad Everett, from t
Chad Everett helps wheel Raimon Made off to surgery, where the surgical team will repair the Tetralogy of Fallot he was born with nine years ago.
he Rotary International’s Gift of Life charity to get him from the Dominican Republic to Loma Linda.
Ms. Small, of Agoura Hills, paid for Raimon’s transportation. Through a fund called the Delaney Kate Honorary Heart Fund, named after Ms. Small’s youngest daughter who underwent the same surgery as Raimon in 2003, the Small family has sponsored 10 children to come to the United States to receive life-saving surgery. On July 31 Ms. Small spent the day with Inocencia Tibrey.
“I have been there and I know how hard it is to wait during surgery,” says Ms. Small. “I didn’t want her to be alone.”
“I didn’t expect any of this,” says Ms. Tibrey. “The truth is, having the opportunity to come here and have this surgery is like a dream come true. We are just so overwhelmed with joy.”
Chad Everett, an actor best known for his role as Dr. Joe Gannon on the television series “Medical Center” from 1969 through 1976, acts now as a celebrity spokesperson for the Gift of Life program, which also helped financially to bring Raimon and his mother to Loma Linda.
Tetralogy of Fallot is a condition that obstructs the blood flow from the lungs to the heart. It is a birth defect that is the most common cause of the condition called “blue baby.” Nearly 30,000 children are born each year with the defect in the United States. Without treatment, the condition is deadly.
“Everyone with this malformation who untreated is dead by 21,” says Dr. Bailey. “His survival pattern was so grim without surgery. Now it’s completely reversed. That two and a half hours in the operating room transformed his life.”
The first thing Raimon wants to do when he gets home is to play baseball.
“I felt I couldn’t play before because I felt tired,” he says.
By Preston Smith
Dr. Bailey reassures Ms. Tibrey before he takes her son, Raimon, into surgery to repair two holes in his heart.