Eleven-month-old Kaitland Davis has never looked into her mother’s eyes.
She suffers from a rare congenital condition known as Fraser’s syndrome, and her eyes are completely covered by skin, one of the more dramatic features of the disease.
The syndrome can cause a host of other abnormalities. Kaitland was born with kidney and lung problems, though the latter have cleared up, Kaitland’s mother, Charmaine Walker-Davis, explained.
‘The doctors think she may only have one kidney, but they still can’t confirm that. She also has a small hole in her heart, which doctors think will close by itself.
‘The only thing they are worried about is her kidney, but everything else is perfect,’ Mrs. Walker-Davis said.
Her parents are hopeful that Kaitland will be able to see if she qualifies as a candidate for surgery.
Doctors at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami will be assessing Kaitland 16 November to determine what can be done for her.
Kaitland’s doctors in Jamaica have been communicating with the physicians at Bascom Palmer to set up the appointment, according to family friend Tishanna Higgins, assistant manager at Kirk Office Equipment.
If the doctors decide to go ahead with the surgery to open Kaitland’s eyes, the minimum cost would be US$10,000, barring any complications, according to the baby’s paediatrician in Jamaica, Mrs. Higgins explained, and that money would have to be paid up front.
In addition to the surgical fee, there are other expenses to consider such as airfare, accommodation in Miami, post-operative checkups, medication and dealing with any complications, Mrs. Higgins said.
To help raise money for Kaitland, Kirk Office Equipment is holding a car wash Saturday, 12 November from 10am to 4pm.
‘I’m a mother and they’re really good friends of mine. They’re like family. Something like this can happen to anyone and if this happened to me I would want people to help. I would help anyone, but more so for them because they are always there for me,’ Mrs. Higgins said.
Mrs. Walker-Davis, who with husband, Hezroy Davis, also has a two-year-old son, Jaered, is home in Jamaica at the moment, having left Cayman after Hurricane Ivan. She was a pre-K teacher at Grace Christian Academy but storm damage to the school made a reopening date unclear at the time.
Kaitland was born 11 December 2004 in Jamaica.
Mrs. Walker-Davis was concerned before her baby was born that Kaitland might have a problem.
Doctors performed an ultrasound and said everything was fine, but she believed otherwise.
‘I saw the ultrasound and I knew there was something wrong with her eyes. I compared the ultrasound to my son’s,’ she said.
It wasn’t until Kaitland was born that her condition was diagnosed.
One doctor in Jamaica told her Kaitland wouldn’t live more than a few months, but the baby has defied the odds and continues to thrive.
Mrs. Walker-Davis spoke of how difficult it was at the beginning.
‘For the first month when she was in the hospital, I was scared. The impression the doctors gave me was that she wasn’t going to live long. I didn’t want to bond with her.
‘But my family was very supportive and then I wanted to help her and make her well. I kept saying God has a reason for everything,’ she said.
While doctors have no way of knowing if her sight is normal, there is evidence that she can move her eyes and can follow light.
‘She loves to look up to the light. Her eyeballs move in the direction of the light. She shakes her hand across her face to make the shadow flicker and then she jumps and laughs,’ Mrs. Walker-Davis said.
Kaitland scoots happily around in her baby walker and interacts with people. She knows who her parents are and giggles like any other baby her age.
‘She loves to play. She says ‘da da’. She makes silly sounds with her mouth. If you make any sound with your mouth, she stops and listens and tries to make that sound. When I’m home, she knows my voice and laughs,’ she said.
Mrs. Higgins has also spent time with Kaitland.
‘When you just hear her voice, she just captures you. Even if you just hear her on the phone, you know she’s somebody special,’ she said.
Kirk Office is donating 100 per cent of all the funds collected through the car wash and sale of food. In addition, the store will donate 5 per cent of all sales from that day.
About 50 of the 60 members of staff will be helping out.
‘Every single one of the staff will be there except those who are working in the store, service department and warehouse,’ Mrs. Higgins said.
How to help
Donations can be made directly into Butterfield Bank CI$ account 02201-37239, under the name Kaitland Davis Fund. For more information, contact Tishanna Higgins at 329-7776.