Mum in crowd-funding drive to raise $1.7m for baby's op

At just 21 months, Yujia has suffered multiple operations, a collapsed lung, a seizure and a detached retina. Photos: ST, YouTube screengrabs

The sum of US$1.3 million (S$1.7 million) is an astounding amount to be asking strangers for.

But the kindness of strangers is exactly what Madam Jamie Chua is banking on to pave the way for her toddler to have the surgery she needs.

At just 21 months, Xie Yujia has suffered multiple operations, a collapsed lung, a seizure and a detached retina.

Her biggest problem is a congenital defect - her oesophagus, or food pipe, is not connected to her stomach.

Madam Chua, 30, has started a crowd-funding effort on Indiegogo to raise the necessary funds for Yujia to have reconstructive surgery at the Boston Children's Hospital in the United States, which specialises in treating such defects.

"I was told before delivery that the baby might have a block in her food pipe, as she couldn't swallow amniotic fluid," recalled the housewife.

Tests revealed the far more serious problem of oesophageal atresia, which happens in about one out of 2,500 births.

A day after she was born, she was wheeled into the operating room for surgery, but her oesophagus was too far from the stomach to be joined to it.

For the next five months, Yujia was fed through a tube to her stomach and needed another down her throat to remove the saliva which might choke her.

She had corrective surgery in February last year and went home a month later for the first time, but complications, such as infections, continued to dog her.

That April, after a second procedure to widen her oesophagus, it ruptured and the gastric juice that leaked into her lungs caused her left lung to collapse.

Back into hospital she went. Finally, in February, she was well enough to go home with her mum and dad, Mr Xie Wen Long, 40, a self-employed event organiser.

Madam Chua said the dreaded process of sticking a tube down Yujia's throat every few hours is the main reason she would like her daughter to have reconstructive surgery.

"Feeding her through a tube to her stomach is okay, but I can't see her go through the suction process," she said.

When she heard the amount needed for the surgery in Boston, her heart dropped as she had thought it would cost the same amount as the surgery in Singapore, which was about $300,000.

Her Indiegogo campaig n had received US$35,200 as of last night.

This article was first published on June 17, 2015.
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