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Jerusha celebrates 5 years after heart surgery

Jerusha celebrates 5 years after heart surgery


It was a test of faith. It took 14 years for their prayers to be answered. And finally baby Jerusha was born. She had all the lovable traits of a baby but her healthy appearance was deceiving. In a matter of days she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and open-heart surgery was needed to correct the hole in her heart.

July 8, 2006, marked five years since Jerusha Raguette of Paget Farm, Bequia, successfully underwent heart surgery in Tel Aviv, Israel.{{more}}

But her mommy, Marilyn Raguette, remembers this trying phase of her life as if it were yesterday.

On Tuesday, July 25, SEARCHLIGHT caught up with Marilyn and Jerusha at the Bayshore Mall, Port Elizabeth, Bequia. Jerusha now seven, was bubbling with excitement, but as she played and ran about the mall her mom kept her in check under watchful eyes, sometimes calling her name to make sure she did not wander off to the nearby busy road.The lass will celebrate her eight birthday on October 7, 2006. SEARCHLIGHT carried an article of Jerusha’s miracle in its August 24, 2001, issue.

Jerusha’s birth was supposed to be one of the best moments of Marilyn and Alphonzo Raguette’s life, but this joy turned into fear after they realized that their precious baby needed critical help if she was to live a normal life. And Marilyn said that not for a moment did they allow the thought of losing her to cross their minds.

To carry out Jerusha’s operation the Raguettes needed to raise a sum in the region of US$40, 000 to US$70, 000.

Where would they get this lump sum of money with time running out? At the same time Jerusha’s condition was causing her increasing breathlessness and her lips, fingers and nails would turn blue at times.

“It didn’t matter where we had to go so long as we got her treated,” Marilyn sighed.

One day while the Raguettes were trying to get donations for her surgery at the Bequia Airport, Jerusha’s angel came along in the person of Chris Bernard, a national of the United States. Bernard who was on vacation did make a donation. However, when he returned to the US, as he would later tell Marilyn, charmed by Jerusha’s beautiful hazel eyes and her warm smile, he never gave up and sought help as far as Israel, from a humanitarian group there called Save A Child’s Heart (SACH).

Marilyn and Alphonzo were overjoyed when sometime after they received a call from Bernard that Jerusha would be allowed to do her operation in Israel free of cost. Marilyn said on July 8, 2001, Jerusha’s surgery lasting four hours was performed, and to this date she has never had any complications.

“It has changed my life completely, because since then I have been focussing entirely on her,” Marilyn said looking at Jerusha with a smile.

In September, Jerusha, a student of the Paget Farm Government School goes to Grade Three. “I am grateful to God,” said Marilyn. The proud mother quipped: “She’s very intelligent.”

Six weeks after Jerusha’s surgery the doctor who performed her operation, Amran (Ami) Cohen, died of a heart attack in the US. This is one of the memories that took Marilyn’s smile away as she ponders the irony. But she is very grateful to Chris Bernard, Winifred Kydd, SACH and the Rotary for their help.

Marilyn is cognizant of the fact that her daughter is very fortunate since stories of children with heart defect do not always end as happily as the one unfolding now.