UAE mother’s sick baby faces race against time

Little Aleeyah Carungay was diagnosed with a potentially fatal congenital liver disease when she was just 8 weeks old and has been in and out of intensive care on a weekly basis ever since.
Grace Carungay needs to raise another Dh160,00 to pay for a liver transplant that will save her daughter’s life. Irene Garcia Leon / The National
Grace Carungay needs to raise another Dh160,00 to pay for a liver transplant that will save her daughter’s life. Irene Garcia Leon / The National
DUBAI // An 11-month-old baby is facing a race against time for a life-saving liver transplant.

Aleeyah Carungay had a potentially fatal congenital liver disease diagnosed when she was eight weeks old and has been in and out of intensive care.

Her mother, Grace, needs to raise Dh160,000 to pay for the operation in her native Philippines, but with each passing week what money has been raised is being drained to pay for her daughter’s ongoing care.

In response, a Dubai-based restaurant firm has pledged Dh34,000 and has set up an online appeal to help to pay for Aleeyah’s surgery.

“I’m really worried about what is going to happen to my daughter because every few days she is admitted to hospital,” said Mrs Carungay, 32, who works as a receptionist in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m really desperate because it is only a matter of finding this amount of money because my sister is going to donate [liver tissue], so we have a donor.”

Aleeyah had biliary atresia diagnosed after her mother noticed she was jaundiced. The condition causes inflammation in the bile ducts leading to duct damage, reducing the flow of bile and scarring the liver.

Bile is a fluid made by the liver that carries toxins and waste out of the body and helps the body to digest fats and absorb vitamins. Doctors in Manila have put Aleeyah on a drip to help her body to drain the fluid.

“We have also been told by doctors that she needs to gain weight before she can have her operation as she is just 6.1kg and needs to be 8kg or 9kg,” said Mrs Carungay.

But the child’s condition means that she cannot digest normal baby milk, so a special version has to be imported, which costs Dh2,200 per 400 gram tin.

“She needs a new tin every three weeks so this is another drain on the money we have saved up,” said Mrs Carungay, who plans to go back to the Philippines in a few weeks to meet doctors and discuss treatment.

“The aim is to get the transplant done by May because the longer it takes the more difficult it is for Aleeyah, and most infants with the disease don’t live past two years old,” she said.

The transplant will cost Dh375,000 and a charity in the Philippines has donated about Dh124,000. A senator has promised to help but more is needed. An earlier media appeal yielded only a small response. However, bosses and employees at Restaurant Secrets in Dubai have now stepped with donations and are also spreading the word online and among clients.

“We have a special Christmas fund of about Dh10,000 that we set aside for special causes and when I heard about Aleeyah I felt we had to do something,” said Ralph Omar, co-founder of Restaurant Secrets.

“Her story appeared in the media and I thought that more people would come forward but by the time February came round her mother told us that there had been a low response and she was back to square one.”

A further Dh20,000 was donated by the company two weeks ago with staff also raising Dh3,000.

“We feel it’s very important that as a company we give back to the community and help to play a positive role in society,” said Mr Omar.

An online fund has been set up at Razoo and for more details click here.

 

nhanif@thenational.ae

Published: March 1, 2015 04:00 AM

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