A COUNTY Limerick father has made a heartfelt plea for financial support to ensure that his six-week-old baby daughter undergoes the surgery she needs to survive.
Xhabrina Fitzgerald who was born with a rare heart condition must undergo open heart surgery before she reaches the three-month mark.
Her family are hoping to raise enough funds – in the region of €20,000 – to ensure that she has the corrective surgery in Manila in the coming weeks.
Xhabrina was born with the condition d-transposition of the great arteries which means that her pulmonary artery and the aorta are in the wrong positions. “The procedure to fix it is called an arterial switch. They are going to move one into place and then the other,” explained Xhabrina’s father, Brian, who is from Dromin, outside Kilmallock.
“They said the heart itself is fine. It is a procedure that they can do very, very well and with a good success rate but she needs to get it done before she is three months old,” he added.
Without the surgery, Xhabrina wouldn’t survive. “Oxygen depletion is what is caused by it – when the arteries are in the wrong place,” Brian explained.
“There are holes in the heart which are present at birth but which close by themselves at three months. Any mixing of the blood with the oxygen is taking place now and that will all be stopped by three months so the operation has to be done well inside that time. It is recommended that the surgery is done at two weeks,” he pointed out.
Due to the nature of her condition, it is vital that Xhabrina is kept calm and prevented from crying.
“She had to be kept passive – she can’t be left cry as crying uses oxygen. She has to be kept fed, calm and asleep as much as possible,” Brian explained.
His wife Maricho – from the Philippines - is currently caring for Xhabrina in Cebu in the Philippines where she was born. Brian meanwhile, is staying with his mother, Margaret, at the family home in Dromin where he is working on the fundraising endeavour.
A fundraising night is to take place in Bulgaden Castle this Saturday night at 9pm to pay for Xhabrina’s surgery at the Philippine Heart Centre in Manila.
“We are hoping to raise €20,000. €25,000 would cover everything but we are hoping if we could even get to €20,000 we would make do,” said Brian. “She will have to fly immediately into Manila when she is booked in with the specialist. The specialists have assured us that it sounds much more terrible than it is. It is surgery that they are very confident about.” he continued. Tickets are available at the petrol station in Bruff, Claire’s Classic Chicken, from Margaret on 087 1679709 or from Brian on 087 7034820. Tickets can also be purchased on the door on the night.