By JINA AMBA
Children with special needs require special attention and medical help in order for them to make it through the first years of life.
Eleven-year-old Renellah Moidie from Milne Bay was born with heart defects and has been receiving treatment from doctors in Alotau hospital and a cardiologist in Port Moresby.
Without life saving surgery which is not available in Papua New Guinea her life expectancy looks gloomy.
Renellah has had no early education because there are no special schools in Milne Bay for children like her. Yet she is a very smart child who understands instructions but requires speech pathology.
She enjoys playing with other children and watching movies and has learned to count by watching educational videos.
Renellah’s grandfather was Stanley Mokuta, the first medical officer and a pioneer who served 56 years as a doctor with the Department of Health in the highlands and in Milne Bay until he retired in 1966.
In his long and rewarding career he has saved countless lives.
Renellah’s parents Jess and Daroa say that without surgery she would be like many of their friends’ children with disabilities that died early deaths.
The family brought in Renellah to the Kula Spirit’s Spacim Pikinini PNG Rotary-branded clinic in Alotau for assessment.
After sighting her reports, chief executive officer of Spacim Pikinini PNG Wendy Stein referred Renellah to Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (Romac) for a heart replacement/repair surgery as her case was rare. PNG does not provide heart replacement services.
To prolong her life and perhaps give her some guarantee of a normal lifespan Renellah needs this lifesaving surgery.
Stein said Renellah’s parents are struggling without a home of their own home as they lived with relatives in Alotau town.
Like all parents, they want a good outcome for Renellah as most of their friends who have children with disabilities have lost them while they were still in their early years.
Stein said surgery varied in cost from $30,000 to $50,000 depending on time needed in intensive care.
Romac commenced in March 1988 out of the actions of an Australian Rotarian who, with a group of surgeons, visited Labasa in Fiji.
They found the child mortality rate in Fiji as high as 25 per cent in some places. They quickly identified that lack of medical and surgical facilities and skills for children of the island nations in Oceania was a major cause.
Romac in New Zealand and Australia enlists assistance from medical experts, hospitals, nurses, physiotherapists, pathology and radiology services, airlines, sponsors and other supporters.
Today Romac is providing surgical treatment to around 50 children from Oceania every year.
Romac provides surgical treatment in Australia and New Zealand for children from developing countries from the Pacific region in the form of life-giving and or dignity-restoring surgery not accessible to them in their home countries.
It provides hope and restores dignity to transform a child’s life, provide the best possible surgical and medical expertise, engage Rotary and the community at all levels to fund and support the Romac cause, to maintain and improve the quality of the management process and ensure high quality governance of the programme.
“Moidie fits the Romac criteria and has received her passport and is looking forward to Romac accepting her for surgery, giving her the gift of life,” Stein said.
She said Kula Spirit has fast-tracked the passport process and provided transport to get the passport done.
Kula Spirit provided photocopying and all incidentals and assisted with completion of forms and associated costs and she got her passport.
Kula Spirit has and would continue supporting Renellah until she has successfully undergone life-saving surgery overseas.
She is now awaiting visa instructions and word on an appropriate hospital to undergo the operation.
By JINA AMBA