ABC News, Monday 26th October, 2020
Reproduced from ABC News - A story by Tahlia Roy (Posted 4 hours ago, updated 1hour ago as at 10.30 am, 26.10.20)
Donated surgeries in Canberra save Solomon Islands baby born with detached oesophagus
Solomon Islands boy Vincent Toto now
has a chance to have a healthy life
Not yet two years old, Vincent Toto's life was set to end before it really began. But a mother's love, goodwill from 3,000 kilometres away and an unforgettable year in a foreign country have saved the Solomon Islands boy from certain death. "If he was left in Honiara, he would have been dead in a few days to maybe a month," paediatric surgeon Celine Hamid explains. "Because these kids are born without the food pipe, which is the oesophagus, they drown in their own saliva. They aspirate. They get lung problems."
Charity Group (ROMAC) Saving Dozens of Pacific Islanders
Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC) has saved dozens of Pacific Islanders by bringing sick babies and children to Canberra for critical care, which is donated by the hospital under a memorandum of understanding.
Vincent underwent three significant surgeries, dozens of gastroscopies and ended up in the neonatal intensive care unit on a few occasions.
After 16 months of treatment in Canberra, he has become well enough to eat — with an appetite that draws him to the backyard veggie garden to munch on snow peas.
Canberra surgeon Celine Hamid and her patient Vincent, when he was a baby.(ABC News: Greg Nelson, Supplied)
Dr Hamid, who works at the Canberra Hospital, says Vincent's life came to be in her hands after he was born in Honiara with a complex anomaly: his oesophagus was not connected to his stomach, leaving the child to waste away helplessly.
"There are no paediatric surgeons in Honiara or most of the Pacific countries. Fiji has two," she says. "So what happens is that when the baby is born, the general surgeon is called to check the child … Then they contact us [at the Canberra Hospital], pictures are sent, and we contact Rotary."
Vincent's mother Cosinta Matesonia is relieved her son can now eat.(Supplied)
His 23-year-old mother, Cosinta Matesonia, endured fear and uncertainty as she fought to keep her malnourished son alive following his birth in May last year. But she is now ready to fly home with a thriving toddler.
"I'm just happy for Rotary to help, so I just want to say a big thanks to the Rotary club and the doctor who helped my baby to get better," Ms Matesonia says.
She says it is a huge relief to see Vincent can now eat. "He loves to eat apples, spinach, potato, pawpaw and the pumpkin," Ms Matesonia says.