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