Paradise Lost, and Regained

The Holness family of Jamaica – Michael, ShellyAnn, and their two young daughters, Natasha and Antonique – live in a lush village, nestled in the rolling hills west of Montego Bay. It looks like paradise – until you take a closer look. The village only recently obtained electricity, and there’s still no running water and little in the way of health care. The family rents a simple wooden house and, like many of their neighbors, lives hand to mouth.

Three-month-old Antonique became sick and needed constant attention. She ate little and suffered from shortness of breath, and her heart raced. ShellyAnn took her baby to a local clinic, the only medical facility in the area. The doctor (sent once a month to the clinic by the Organization for International Development, a U.S.-based group) diagnosed Antonique with a severe form of congenital heart disease. ShellyAnn was encouraged to see Dr. Doyle, the only pediatric cardiologist on the island, located in Kingston.

The Holnesses borrowed from everyone they knew to make the trip and pay the doctor’s fee. Dr. Doyle recommended that Antonique undergo surgery as soon as possible, or she might die. However, no hospital on the island was prepared to do the operation and the family could not afford to go anywhere else. They felt helpless and prayed for a miracle.

Little did they know, a miracle was in the works. The Organization for International Development, contacted Project Kids Worldwide, a Manhattan-based organization dedicated to helping medically underserved children around the globe. Taking up Antonique’s cause, Project Kids made arrangements to bring the baby to NYU Medical Center for surgery. When Shelly Ann departed for New York, husband Michael said, “Call me before the baby goes into surgery, and don’t call me till her eyes are open.”

To everyone’s relief, the surgery was a success. Antonique is now thriving.

ShellyAnn and Michael’s lives have completely changed, too. Back home, they are celebrities. Everyone knows about the baby’s miracle surgery.
The Holnesses are grateful for each new day and to those who have helped. Says ShellyAnn, “I don’t know how we can ever repay Project Kids Worldwide for saving our baby’s life.” The people at Project Kids would say that seeing Antonique and her family thrive is payment enough.