Baby love

Life­savers. In­ter­net cam­paigns try to raise $1.3 mil­lion for a rare surgery for Sin­ga­porean child at Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE -

The strug­gle be­gan for baby Yu­jia the day she was born, one month early in a Sin­ga­porean hos­pi­tal.

Her kid­ney was small and her heart pocked with holes. A blood clot found in her brain sig­naled she might later suf­fer seizures. Most press­ing, though, a birth de­fect meant the in­fant’s esoph­a­gus did not con­nect prop­erly with her stom­ach, a con­di­tion called Esophageal Atre­sia, which in its var­i­ous forms im­pacts about 1 in 4,000 new­borns, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Li­brary of Medicine.

Af­ter nearly two years of hos­pi­tal stays and surg­eries, 21-month-old Yu­jia is still not well, said her mom Jamie Yun. Seek­ing the safest and most ef­fec­tive treat­ment, Yun said she needs to bring Yu­jia to the world-renowned EA pro­gram at Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. The price tag: $1.3 mil­lion.

When a Bos­ton doc­tor de­liv­ered the news of how much surgery and a six-month stay would cost, Yun said, “My heart sank. … I gave up on the spot.”

So three weeks ago, Yun asked the world for help, launch­ing a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign on In­diegogo Life, which so far has raised close to $150,000. Another fundraiser on a Sin­ga­pore-based site called GIVEa­sia has raised an ad­di­tional $215,000.

Six weeks of fundrais­ing re­main, and it ap­pears the Yun fam­ily is ap­proach­ing its goal.

“We never thought the re­sponse would be that over­whelm­ing,” Yun said. “I just wanted to share our story to as many peo­ple as we could.”

Yun is not alone in ask­ing the In­ter­net for help pay­ing med­i­cal bills.

Fundrais­ers for med­i­cal treat­ments are among the most pop­u­lar on In­diegogo Life — the site’s branch that fo­cuses on fundrais­ing for per­sonal needs or causes — said spokes­woman Elena Gine­breda-Fren­del.

“Med­i­cal fundrais­ers do ex­tremely well,” Gine­bredaFren­del said. “The most suc­cess­ful cam­paigns in­clude an au­then­tic, per­sonal story to ex­plain the im­pact the funds will have. When peo­ple have some­thing per­sonal to con­nect with, they are more likely to do­nate.”

Per­haps the fundraiser’s nearly 2,000 donors were wooed by a video at­tached to the cam­paign, a tear-jerk­ing chron­i­cle of the pudgy and adorable Yu­jia’s chal­leng­ing in­fancy, her tiny body so of­ten criss­crossed with tubes and sur­rounded by med­i­cal equip­ment.

Feed­ing Yu­jia through a tube in­serted in her stom­ach, and clear­ing ex­cess saliva from her mouth once ev­ery two hours to keep her from chok­ing, have be­come rit­u­als, Yun said last week via Skype. In the back­ground, a very drowsy Yu­jia — sta­ble for then — lounged in her fa­ther Wen­long’s arms.

Yu­jia has also suf­fered a num­ber of other mal­adies, Yun said — among them a reti­nal de­tach­ment in her right eye, which re­quired surgery. She said doc­tors do not know how much of her vi­sion Yu­jia will re­cover.

At­tempts to re­con­nect Yu­jia’s esoph­a­gus in Sin­ga­pore have been un­suc­cess­ful, she said. Af­ter the latest round of treat­ment, she said, the child’s esoph­a­gus tore and her lungs col­lapsed. To re­cover, Yu­jia spent 43 days in an in­ten­sive care unit.

Yun said she wants her child to live her life as com­fort­ably as pos­si­ble, and is de­ter­mined to help baby Yu­jia en­ter child­hood eat­ing by mouth, not through a tube.

“The goal is to end the mis­ery,” Yun said.

SPENCER BUELL @MetroBOS Quoted “We never thought the re­sponse would be that over­whelm­ing.”



Yu­jia Yun, who was born with a birth de­fect where her esoph­a­gus does not con­nect prop­erly with her stom­ach, needs to come to Bos­ton for surgery.


Mother and baby

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