U.S. President Barack Obama has reached out to Dora Grace Ada Camacho, an 8-year-old in a hospital bed paralyzed from the neck down but whose story has been inspiring people in the CNMI and other parts of the world to help her get treated and recover.
Dora's family is now seeking monetary donations to be able to bring her from Saipan to the Medical University of South Carolina where her family hopes she will get the best treatment possible.
“We need a miracle for this. We need to get her out of here as fast as we could because the earlier we take her to South Carolina, the better chance she gets to recover. The longer I wait, the longer she won't recover at all,” Dora's mother, 29-year-old Jennifer C. Ada, told Saipan Tribune in an interview at the Commonwealth Health Center on Saturday night.
Ada said she never expected that the president of the United States would also reach out to her daughter.
“I'm happy that the president gets to reach (out) to my daughter. I'm very proud, my husband and I are very proud of Dora, that she inspired so many people, plus the president. He's inspired with her courage and bravery,” the mother said.
Obama's message and gift to Dora was personally delivered by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) in Room D46 of CHC on Thursday night.
“I recently learned about these challenges you face, and I want you to know how much I admire your strength at this difficult time,” Obama told Dora.
The president added, “The courage you have in the face of these challenges is inspiring, and I hope the love and the support of your family and friends comfort you each day. Please know the First Lady and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.”
That one-page letter from the president is accompanied by a photo of the first family-the president, the first lady, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Ada said she and her husband are “very proud” of Dora for bringing the community together. She said she and the whole family are thankful for all the help and messages of encouragement they have been receiving.
The response from the public has been overwhelming. Dora has received enough supply of PediaSure, baby wipes and Pampers, among other things. Her hospital visitors have also brought her toys.
The bigger challenge now is to send Dora to the Medical University of South Carolina where Dora has been accepted as a patient under the care of their chief of the Neurosciences Division, Dr. Steven Glazier.
“We were discussing earlier it's best if my daughter gets a private plane to South Carolina,” the mother said.
If Dora is transported through commercial plane, they need to pay for at least 13 seats-six for Dora alone, two for doctors, two for nurses, two for respiratory technicians, and one escort. However, a stretcher for Dora may not be accommodated by a commercial plane, along with other medical apparatuses and medicines.
Ada said she does not know how much it would cost to hire a private plane to take Dora, the needed medical staff, escort, and medical equipment and medicines from Saipan to South Carolina.
“It should be much much more than the $45,000 needed one way from Saipan to the Philippines,” the mother said, adding that this is the reason why they are asking for monetary donations.
Ada said they're hoping Dora will be brought to South Carolina “next month or before December.”
She said they're hoping Dora will “go back to what she was before.”
“They will see what is making her ill. She can't breathe on her own, what can cure her of Transverse myelitis,” Ada said.
Dora is enrolled as a third grader at William S. Reyes Elementary School. Her mother said her teachers will be visiting her five times a week so she can catch up on her studies.
From pain to paralysis
Dora has so far spent four months in hospital bed-at the Asian Medical Center in Manila, Philippines and at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. on Saipan, the only hospital in the CNMI.
The mother said Dora is paralyzed from the neck down with a breathing tube down her throat, and this is keeping her alive.
Her condition has perplexed her parents and doctors. Her mother said once her Medicaid application in South Carolina, with the help of NMPASI, and once she receives enough help to be transported to South Carolina, they're hoping she will be treated and recover from what's been ailing her.
The mother said once the Medicaid application in South Carolina gets approved, it will cover Dora's medical expenses there.
What started as pain and numbness in Dora's legs led to paralysis. Dora was admitted to CHC's pediatric ward in May. The paralysis spread to Dora's waist then her arms. She was moved to the intensive care unit when her ability to breathe deteriorated.
Ada said her daughter was sent to the Asian Medical Center in the Philippines for a spinal tap but her spine was too dry. While there is fluid in the young patient's neck area, doctors are reluctant to take samples from that area because of a surgical procedure she had when she was only 1 year old.
Dora had a brain tumor removed through her neck when she was only 1 year old. The mother said doctors suspected the surgical site may have become infected, and may have contributed to her paralysis although doctors don't have clear answers yet.
The mother said her husband has been incarcerated and she's unable to work because she has to take care of Dora and her three other children. Right now, while the mother is attending to Dora at CHC, her three other children are being taken cared of by their uncles, aunts, and other relatives.
Want to donate?
Dora's family has set up a bank account at Bank of Guam for monetary donations.
A Facebook group, Paralyzed child fights for survival, has been set up, https://www.facebook.com/groups/221681741294611/.
Dora's mother can also be reached at her mobile phone, (670) 789-4936, and house phone, (670) 235-8277. Or at CHC, (670) 234-8950, Room D-46.