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Rotary club helps Shannen

DARCEL CHOY Friday, April 21 2017

ARTHUR Luke and Michelle Kallie-Luke yesterday came closer to their goal of raising more than $700,000 to pay for a bone marrow transplant for their three-year-old daughter Shannen, after receiving a cheque for $200,000 from the Rotary Club of Chaguanas. Shannen suffers from thalassemia major, a blood-related disorder which requires a monthly blood transfusion.

The procedure, which will be performed at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, Italy will cost ˆ158,000 or approximately TT$1.2 million. In addition to the transplant, the Luke family will need to stay in Italy for seven months, to ensure Shannen recovers fully. On learning of Shannen’s plight, the Rotary Club of Chaguanas approached the family to assist them in raising $250,000.

At a cheque presentation at the Purivo Dialysis Centre, Chaguanas, President of the Rotary Club of Chaguanas Michael Ibrahim said the initiative was one that was guided by God Almighty. He recognised the family for their effort in raising the funds on their own which included them mortgaging their home.

“Where there is effort, there is support. With the guidance of Chairman Sam Baldeo and all of the Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Chaguanas, we initiated a very simple project of $20 and that was focused on the citizens as against corporate giving, because we felt corporate giving would have been difficult in this recessionary time. The strategy was good and I stand here with a cheque for $200,000.” Ibrahim said they had pledges for more donations and assured the family that the money will be deposited in their account. Shannen’s mother Michelle told the small gathering how thankful she was for their help. She also thanked the public in general for coming forward to assist.

“Thank you to Rotary for the initiative. It is going to make a big difference, we really appreciate it, thank you to the public, to our family, friends, colleagues and well wishers who all came forward.

There are people I may never meet in person who contributed to Shannen’s case. God really sent His angels. Thank you to everyone,” she said.

The family will leave Trinidad on April 25, as Shannen is expected to begin treatment on May 2. According to the Thalassemia Foundation of Canada’s website, thalassemia major occurs when a child inherits two mutated genes, one from each parent. Children born with thalassemia major usually develop symptoms of severe anaemia within the first year of life.

They lack the ability to produce normal, adult haemoglobin and experience chronic fatigue. They may also fail to thrive.

Two major consequences of the disorder are severe anaemia and expansion of the bone marrow in the body’s effort to produce more red blood cells.

This leads to poor growth, impaired physical activities, facial and other bone deformities, fragile bones and enlargement of the liver and spleen. In some cases, it can be fatal.



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