Sick child needs help from community

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

My name is Sonja Dunbar-Ford, a parent of Mary Ann Ford. We are residents of Natchez. My daughter is a 16-year-old special needs child. At birth, she was diagnosed with having an intracranial hemorrhage, a blood clot on the brain, and had to be transported to our nearest trauma center in Jackson.

We have been traveling to and from this medical center in Jackson all of her life. About one year ago, she was diagnosed with this syndrome called Prader Willi. This syndrome has now led to other problems with my child, such as swelling of the heart, leaking heart valves causing acid to drain to her stomach, and severe headaches. She has breathing problems where she wears oxygen all day every day in order to get the proper amount of blood flowing to the necessary parts of her heart.

The result of her having Prader Willi is that there is no signal going to the brain that lets her know when enough is enough. She could drink too much water and die or she could eat too much food and die. This is a serious problem.

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The latest trauma happened on June 5, 2007, when I found myself traveling back and forth to the medical center with her and barely making it in the door of the hospital before she collapsed. She was barely breathing because of the enormous amount of fluid that was in her body. They immediately rushed her to the pediatric intensive care where they then began extracting liters of fluid from her body, giving her I.V. fluids to keep her kidney functioning at a working level, and giving her several medications via I.V.

Later, after talking with the heart specialists, the genetics disorder doctor, and the other resident doctors, it was then expressed that if this continues to exist in this state, my child’s heart would eventually give out. Imagine the fright of hearing the news that your child could someday die because of this disorder. I felt helpless.

Granted, she will always have this disorder, but we need to know how we can control it or how to live with it. With the help of the social worker at the medical facility, we found one place that handles children and adults with this particular disorder. After being excited about this institute, we were then told the devastating news that her insurance would not cover it because this particular place was located in Pittsburgh, Pa., and that they were not in their provider network. Also, we were told that they felt that it was not a medical emergency. They told us to wait 30 days to see if this institute would become a provider network and that there was no guarantee as to that ever happening.

I then called the institute to see what we were looking at financially because a bed would be available by July 4, and to me my child does have a medical need — it’s called her life. The lady I talked to at the institute, Mrs. Kisloff, told me it would cost me $90,000 for her three-month stay with them. They are a reputable institute with a 100 percent success rate with children of such instances.

I cannot, in any way afford this cost, nor do I know where to start trying to raise the money. As you can see, July 4 has come and gone and there is still no word about getting my child the help she needs. I am writing this request with thought that maybe your church or organization could donate toward our cause of getting my child help. I have hope and faith in the Lord above that this will work out. The scripture tells us, “We have not, because we ask not.” I am a firm believer in the Almighty. He has never left me, nor will he ever leave me. I believe he will see my daughter through this, but it never hurts to ask.

If you have any questions and for instructions on how to donate, contact Sonya Dunbar-Ford at 601-442-5337 (home) or 601-445-2865 (work) or send correspondence to 111 Burkhart St., Natchez, MS 39120. To make deposits towards this effort, do so at any AmSouth location. Also, a benefit program will be held for May Ann Ford on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Smithland Baptist Church in Stanton.

Sonya Dunbar-Ford is the mother of Mary Ann Ford and is a Natchez resident.