Kenrick suffers from tracheoesophageal fistula, which means he has an abnormal connection between his esophagus and trachea. This small deformity means that Kenrick can’t breathe or eat on his own.
Doctors in Jamaica attempted surgery to connect his trachea properly, but they found that the problem was too extensive for them to fix. That left Kenrick living in the hospital indefinitely.
Marsha James is Kenrick’s doctor and she described the problem. “ Normally we try to re-connect the top end and bottom end of the esophagus, so that he can swallow normally and food would go down into the stomach but his top end and bottom end were too far apart,” she said.
Thankfully for Kenrick, there is hope. The difficult procedure can be performed in other hospitals around the world. Kenrick’s doctors began enquiring and found that the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto could do the surgery for around $600,000, while a U.S. hospital wanted $1 million.
Those prices were far out of reach for Kenrick’s parents, but after so many years in the hospital, Kenrick has touched a lot of hearts. That’s helped him have a virtual army taking up his cause. The Jamaican Health Minister started making phone calls to find a way to pay for the surgery.
The boy’s father, Peter Bogle, is grateful for all of the work being done to arrange the surgery for Kenrick. He says he’s looking forward to the day he can finally bring his son home.
A group in Toronto also started making phone calls. Wes Hall, a board member for an organization called SickKids Foundation, concentrated his efforts on raising money for the surgery. Hall went to Jamaica to tour the Bustamante Hospital for Children, where Kenrick resides.
Hall told reporters, “It just broke my heart when I saw him because he had a tube in his nose. He had a tube in his stomach. He couldn’t eat.” Hall made it his mission to make Kenrick’s surgery happen.
Hall then had an idea. He started calling hospital officials to see if there was a way to reduce the cost for the surgery. Hospital officials consulted with staff, and some of the doctors and nurses volunteered to work for free, which further reduced the cost of the surgery.
Because of the phone calls Hall made and the generous gestures by nurses and doctors, Kenrick’s large network of advocates have gotten the surgery down to $283,000. This is still far out of the range of what Kenrick’s family could afford. They have set up a fundraising site to finally get the boy his surgery.
Donations can be made to fund Kenrick’s surgery here . About a third of the money has been raised, but there’s still $200,000 to go. Hall has made an incredibly generous offer to pay however much is left to make sure the surgery takes place soon. It is currently scheduled for next month.
Kenrick has faced so much adversity in his life, he certainly deserves all of the support he’s getting. He has doctors in Jamaica and Toronto rooting for him, as well as a multitude of donors that are doing their best to bring the boy home in time for his fifth birthday. It’s amazing what can be achieved when everyone comes together with a common goal.