Dora Grace Ada Camacho’s passing early yesterday morning at a hospital in San Diego, Calif., triggered an outpouring of support not only from the CNMI community but everyone touched by her bravery and indefatigable spirit in the midst of her debilitating condition. She was 9 years old.
Camacho, known simply as Dora, was with her mother, Jennifer C. Ada, and other loved ones when she passed away at the Rady Children’s Hospital, where she has been confined since late last year.
Aside from numerous messages of condolences on social media, the Commonwealth’s leaders also took time to pay tribute to Dora and expounded on how much of an inspiration she has been to everyone.
“Today, I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dora Grace Ada Camacho. Princess Dora, as she was lovingly known, inspired our community last year as she battled a very unfortunate setback that left her paralyzed at such a young age,” said Gov. Eloy S. Inos in a statement.
“As her case drew our community together, I am truly humbled to have been able to help get her medically transported from [the Commonwealth Health Center] to the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. I still remember visiting with Princess Dora at the airport before she was boarded on the plane bound for San Diego. I was deeply moved that even in her most trying moment, Princess Dora still managed to keep a strong and vibrant smile for all her well-wishers. She was truly an inspiration and will be sorely missed, but not forgotten. In this time of sorrow, we extend our sincerest condolences and prayers to the late Dora’s mother, Jennifer, and all Dora’s family and friends.”
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said the CNMI has lost a little girl who brought out the best in the community.
“I learned of Dora’s passing early this morning and, sad as though I am, I believe she has gone to a better place and will now be free of suffering. Dora leaves behind a memory we can all cherish: the picture of our community forgetting our differences to rally around a young lady who needed our help. She also leaves us with the memory of a frail body that held a strong spirit. For her smile never seemed to waiver and she reminded all of us to cherish what we had. I will always hold Dora’s memory in my heart and I know that I am not alone in feeling blessed to have known her.”
Victor P. Camacho, Make-A-Wish Guam executive director, said he’s heartbroken. He said that Dora’s passing hits closer to home because he has known Dora personally.
“Any time a wish kid passes, as an organization, it hits us hard. For me personally, this is the toughest part of the job. Make-A-Wish Guam, which services Guam and the Northern Marianas, grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.”
He said Make-A-Wish Guam is grateful they had the opportunity to grant Dora’s wish to have a Cinderella party, held on Oct. 13, 2012, in her hospital room.
“Many thanks go to the CHC medical team and staff for accommodating our wish. Thanks also to the Pacific Islands Club who hosted a wish luncheon for Dora’s family,” he said.
What he found amazing about Dora was that she brought together so many people from Saipan, Rota, Tinian, Guam, and San Diego, not to mention followers on social media.
“Her story inspired people to want to help, through financial support, gifts, in-kind support, and sometimes just being a friend to the family. Throughout her struggle in the hospital, Dora received unconditional love from her family, her medical team, the community and strangers who just wanted to help in any small way.”
Camacho recalls sending an email to a family friend in San Diego, Janice Waller Bouffiou, telling her about Dora’s relocation to San Diego for medical treatment.
“I asked Janice to see if she could rally the Guam clubs in San Diego to help make Dora and her mom feel at home by visiting. Janice and her friends not only visited but opened their hearts to Dora—strangers with a common thread, Marianas Island roots, offering help for someone who needed it.”
While Make-A-Wish was inspired by the story of a 7-year-old boy named Chris who wanted to become a motorcycle patrol police officer, Camacho said that Dora’s story also inspired many who realized that if everyone worked together, “we could accomplish great things.”
“To the family of Dora Camacho, may God guide you and bless you. Your angel got her wings and is now in heaven. Thank you for allowing us to grant her wish,” said Camacho.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Dora’s ordeal started as pain and numbness in her legs that eventually led to paralysis from the neck down. She was admitted to CHC’s pediatric ward in May 2012.
The paralysis spread to Dora’s waist then her arms and she was moved to the intensive care unit when her ability to breathe deteriorated.
Dora was then sent to the Asian Medical Center in the Philippines for a spinal tap but her spine was too dry. While there was fluid in her neck, doctors were reluctant to take samples from that area because of a surgical procedure she had when she was only 1.
Dora had a brain tumor removed through her neck when she was only 1 year old. Her mother said doctors suspect the surgical site may have become infected and may have contributed to her paralysis, although doctors don’t have clear answers yet.
The Ada-Camacho family is still planning Dora’s memorial services.