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Dora is eight years old. She has an infectious smile and a gentle heart. Dora loves to read and her favorite character is Cinderella. All seems normal for this vivacious little girl until you see her today. She’s currently bed-ridden at the Commonwealth Health Center ICU in Saipan. She’s paralyzed from the neck down with a breathing tube down her throat--the only thing keeping her alive. Her condition has yet to be determined. It’s a mystery that’s has perplexed her parents and doctors alike.
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"She’s a very energetic person. She’s sweet, she’s loving, she cares about others and she just--even though she doesn’t know them she says, 'Hi, how are you?'" says her mother, Jennifer Ada Sablan.
Dora was admitted into CHC’s pediatric ward on May 1 after her condition worsened. It started with pain in her legs then numbness then paralysis. Before long the paralysis spread to her waist then her arms. Within two weeks after being admitted to the pediatric ward, Dora was moved to the ICU because her ability to breathe deteriorated and her oxygen levels dropped.
She was brought to the Philippines for a spinal tap but her spine was too dry. Sablan tells PNC that there is fluid in her neck area, but doctors are reluctant to take samples from that area because of a surgical procedure she had.
When Dora was one year old, she had a brain tumor removed through her neck. Sablan says doctors suspect the surgical site may have become infected which may have contributed to her paralysis. But doctors still have no answers.
The bigger problem lies within the cash-strapped CHC. For weeks the hospital had run out of Pediasure, a nutritional supplement given to Dora through a feeding tube. But since Dora’s story had come out in local media, Sablan says she’s received a flurry of donations from all over the world.
"It’s very touching because they’re inspired by my daughter and how strong she is," Sablan said.
Sablan’s husband is incarcerated and she’s unable to work because she has no one to care for her three other children. Sablan says she’s relying heavily on the support of the community to assist her and her daughter through this trying time.
And while the community extends its generous support, Sablan notes that not one single politician has reached out to her family. The only one so far she says is Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan’s wife, who personally visited her daughter.
Wednesday, Saipan Representative Joseph Palacios is meeting with Guam politicians to extend their support. Guam practitioner Dr. Vince Akimoto also tells PNC News that Guam experts will be sent to Saipan to visit Dora."All these things are transpiring because of patients like Dora. When we heard about her story, it touched our hearts. The doctors there are moved by the great generosity of the community," said Akimoto. "The people of Guam are gonna try to help as well."
Sablan says Dora has been accepted as a patient at the Medical University of South Carolina under the care of their chief of the Neurosciences Division, Dr. Steven Glazier. She says it’s just a matter of getting Dora approved for Medicaid to cover her medical expenses in North Carolina.
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