Human Connection

"We look forward to continuing life."

St. Vincent & the Grenadines
4 Minute Read
“Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.”
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1-year-old David traveled with his dad, Danley, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for heart surgery in Richmond, Virginia last fall.
Upon hearing those familiar lyrics, David’s dad Danley was filled with questions. What was he doing there?Why was he away from his family on Christmas? After spending a full month in Richmond, Danley longed for both his family and his home, St. Vincent. Despite all of these feelings, Danley knew that he and David were where they needed to be. By bringing him to Richmond for surgery, Danley was ensuring that David got the care and attention he needed so that he could thrive in the future.

Since he was born, David’s family has had to monitor his heart. His condition affected his growth, causing his family to have to feed him in certain ways to try and promote muscle growth and weight gain. On top of this, David was taking lots of medication every day to manage his condition. Despite all of these challenges, David’s activity level was never affected. On the surface, David remained happy, social, and energetic. He loves picture books, especially with animals. His favorite animals are sheep. Music runs in his family, and David has followed in his dad’s footsteps and loves to play the drums on anything he can get his hands on. 
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David with his mom at clinic in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
David and his family first heard about World Pediatric Project through their local pediatrician, Dr. Baharti Datta, who works as WPP’s Eastern Caribbean Medical Director. After being referred, David’s family knew that surgical care in Richmond was the best option to ensure he had a bright future. Once they got to Richmond, David and his dad faced multiple setbacks on the path to surgery. David came down with a cold, forcing his surgery to be postponed twice. This setback caused lots of stress for Danley and David as there was nothing they could do but wait. David enjoyed playing with the other children staying at The Doorways, and he would see his friends come and go as their stays ended. Danley had to take extra care to protect David during this time as he tried to keep him healthy and away from anyone with a cold so that they wouldn’t have to postpone the surgery again. After a few months of constant care and waiting, David finally reached his surgery date. 

The day of the surgery was very difficult for Danley. Although he knew David was in expert hands with Dr. Thomas Yeh and Dr. Sandy Gullquist from the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Danley was still afraid that something could go wrong. Once he handed David over, all he could do was wait. Staring at the screen displaying David’s number, Danley had a million questions about what was going on in the operating room. He received a call with updates every hour, but between every call, all he could do was wonder. Six and a half hours later, David’s surgery was completed. 

After a successful surgery, the pressure was finally lifted from Danley. He is incredibly grateful to WPP and all of its amazing volunteers. Without WPP, David would not have been able to get the critical care needed to ensure he has a bright future ahead of him. David was healthy and recovering well. Finally, Danley could focus on taking care of David and bringing him back home to his family. 
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When speaking about his feelings on all that has happened to him and his family, Danley remained optimistic:
“All that has happened, it is not a pause in life. It’s life. This is a part of life. It’s not something that is foreign to life, to my life. Life did not go on pause when I came here, life doesn’t go that way. Life continues wherever you are. So I see this as part of my life. So when I get back home, it’s not to start life again but to continue life. The experience has taught me a lot. So we look forward to continuing life.”
Although they still had a month of recovery ahead of them, David and Danley were in good spirits. Soon they would be able to return home and see the rest of their family. With another son on the way, Danley was ready to get home and help prepare. His goals for this year are to solely focus on his family and take care of David however he needs. Danley looks forward to David’s mother being able to see David’s progress – since they left, David has begun to walk on his own. Now almost fully recovered, David is ready to go home and prepare for his next big challenge – being a big brother.

Story by Micah  Siewert, Development and Communications Intern, University of Richmond Class of 2020