Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Two-y-o’s heart mended for Xmas

Published:Friday | December 23, 2022 | 3:25 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Tanya Williams (left), partner Nathaniel Headley, and their two-year-old son Jahari Headley at the Grand Palladium Hotel in Hanover on Wednesday.
Tanya Williams (left), partner Nathaniel Headley, and their two-year-old son Jahari Headley at the Grand Palladium Hotel in Hanover on Wednesday.


Two-year-old Jahari Headley is on his way to recovery after successful heart surgery at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

Jahari, who could only eat puréed food and was suffering as a result of three holes in his heart, plus multiple complications, is now moving about so quickly that his mom, Tanya Williams, has a major task keeping up with him.

The toddler was in a dire situation, said Williams when she spoke of her youngest of three children with husband Nathaniel Headley.

“Jahari needed urgent heart surgery to save his life, but despite his critical condition, and after two failed attempts to remedy the situation, his case seemed dismal,” she stated.

The baby’s plight was highlighted by The Gleaner in October, and with his condition worsening every day, support came from varying sectors, including the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort, which collaborated with Chain of Hope Jamaica and doctors at the children’s hospital to make his surgery possible a month ago.

During a special ceremony at the Hanover-based hotel, Williams, an educator, said that prior to the surgery, her son was unable to recognise when he was hungry and showed no signs of hunger.

“I had to be monitoring his feeding times to know when he was in need of another meal; however, since the surgery, Jahari is now eating crushed solid foods and has become very active,” she told The Gleaner.

Several times during the interview, Williams was forced to go after the now-agile youngster.

“He wants to move and climb all over the place, but we still have to take the necessary precautions to ensure that he remains safe,” the relieved mom added.

Jahari’s condition, known as a ventricular septal defect, meant that his heart had to work harder than normal as a result of the oxygen-rich blood pumping into the lungs instead of to the rest of his body.

His new-found lease on life was celebrated with tremendous optimism by Grand Palladium’s Staff Association President Leroy Peart, who said that through a series of consistent dialogue and discussions with medical doctors and other personnel, they were able to get their organisation to donate US$6,000 (J$900,000) to Chain of Hope for the surgery.

Chain of Hope organised for the doctors from overseas to be flown into Jamaica to carry out the operation.

Jahari was on a waiting list of over 260 patients awaiting surgery at the Bustamante Hospital for Children. Based on his critical state, he was scheduled for surgery twice, but those arrangements fell through.

“We assist staff when they are in dire need of financial assistance. When his father provided all the documentation, we realised that they were trying to get him to do a surgery in Cuba that would cost US$17,000. This figure did not include other additional expenses, including airfare and accommodation. We started dialogue with a number of persons, and this led to our association with Chain of Hope,” Peart explained.

The money, he said, was approved by the hotel’s general manager, Gerardo De Groot.

“Within three days, Jahari was scheduled for surgery, and we ensured that everything went well for him and his family,” Peart added.

Headley, Jahari’s father, is employed to the hotel’s Maintenance Department, which, along with the Human Resource Department, also gave tremendous support to the family.

“Our core value is that our team is properly taken care of. We gave him the support that he needed from the early stages up until the child underwent surgery. It was a team effort to assist his family,” said Lloyd Ricketts, maintenance manager.

The Grand Palladium team has been lauded by De Groot, who said he was proud to witness their outstanding efforts in assisting the family.

“Our goal is to create an environment of helping each other. We saw all the efforts that were undertaken by the team to help Nathaniel, and we are proud to see how they were eager to help,” De Groot said.