MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A potentially life-threatening disease that is disfiguring a Trinidad toddler's face, impacting her ability to eat properly, can be treated…with your help.
Adiah Despot, a two-year-old girl with a hemangioma on her lower lip, is in desperate need of reconstructive surgery.
Hemangioma is an abnormal buildup of blood vessels in the skin. If not treated in time, the buildup will continue growing and could erupt, causing a fatal hemorrhage.
In addition to impacting her ability to eat properly, a hemangioma can cause discolored, loose, wrinkled skin, and possibly a lumpy deformity.
"I just want her to live a normal life I want to be able to go out in public and face other people that treat her the same way they would treat other kids," said Stacy Despot, Aidah's mother.
"It's difficult because going out in public, children don't want to play with her and are afraid of her and run," added Despot.
Adiah cannot be treated in her country, does not have medical insurance and her family cannot afford the operation. In addition, since the girl is not a U.S. resident, the public hospital cannot use taxpayer money to fund her procedure. Instead, it offers her donor-funded medical care through a Jackson Memorial Foundation program.
The program, International Kids Fund's (IKF's) Wonderfund, is in a position to transform the Trinidad toddler's life.
On Thursday morning, program members held a news conference at the Diagnostic Treatment Center (DTC) at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where they announced a fundraising campaign.
The goal: raise $85,000 for Despot's surgery, which would be performed at Holtz Children's Hospital in Miami.
"Adiah's treatment will be managed in phases, the first, and most important, is the surgery we will perform to remove an isolated part of the lesion under her chin, as well as other areas," explained Dr. Seth Thaller, chief and professor of the Division of Plastic Surgery at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital.
"We are confident that in time we will be able to completely remove the entire hemangioma. After surgery, we will monitor Adiah closely to ensure there are no episodes of hemorrhaging and evaluate her every six months for follow-up treatment," added Thaller.
"If it bleeds it can be life threatening," cautions Thaller.
In early September, Adiah turned two years old, a sensitive age in which children develop a sense of 'self' and begin to compare their bodies to others. "It is extremely sad for me to see how my little girl is already facing rejection from other kids at the playground because they notice she looks different," stated Stacy Despot, Adiah's mother.
"As she continues to grow and goes on to school, she will realize why kids may not want to play with her and I am concerned how this will impact her psychologically," Despot said.
Adiah is an only child who lives with her mother and grandmother in Port Fortin, a coastal region in southwestern Trinidad. When she was just a month old, her mother noticed a small mark under her lower lip that looked just like a pimple.
When she consulted with her pediatrician, Adiah's mother was told there was nothing to worry about, but unfortunately the mark kept growing until it was obvious there was indeed something wrong.
It was then that doctors diagnosed Adiah with a hemangioma and told her mother there were no specialists or equipment available to treat this type of condition in the country.
IKF's Wonderfund's partner in Trinidad and Tobago, Hope of a Miracle Foundation, contacted the organization so Adiah could come to Miami for an evaluation and proper treatment.
Thanks to IKF's Wonderfund and the support of the community, hundreds of children have received expert attention from medical specialists. IKF's Wonderfund is entirely funded by donations from the general public and private organizations.
"Before, kids with this type of condition had to hope for their tumor-like lumps to go away, but many just saw their faces deform as time progressed. We are glad IKF's Wonderfund works with a number of amazing physicians who can spare Adiah from having her go down that path of seeing her condition progress," said María Luisa Chea, executive director of the IKF's Wonderfund.
"We ask the South Florida community to give Adiah the best birthday present she can ever get - a chance for a better, healthier life," Chea added.
CBS4's Neighbors 4 Neighbors is also helping and you can make a donation through N4N by clicking here. Select "Family Fun" as the program designation, select "on behalf of" and then write "Adiah Despot" in the text box.
How To Help
- Online. Visit www.wonderfund.org
- Via phone. Call 1-877-453-5437
- Via mail. Send a check or money order to:
Re: Adiah Despot
P.O. Box 2020
Miami, FL 33101
for more features.