« October 2009 « Hawaii
Maui Adventist School Student Inspires Teachers and Classmates
At Maui Adventist School, teachers believe that every child who walks through the school doors comes by the Lord's leading, and that He can use children to teach adults.
In the fall of the 2008-2009 school year, John and Hayde Sim enrolled their son, Jharrell, in the kindergarten class at the school. The soon to be 5-year-old walked through the school doors wearing a smile that seemed bigger than life, and he seemed comfortable talking and playing with his new schoolmates. While it seemed obvious that he was happy to be at his new school, it was not obvious that he was there against the odds because of the medical complications he was facing.
Born in 2003, Jharrell looked like a healthy little boy. He had five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, and from all outward appearances he looked normal and healthy. However, within a few days he quickly became jaundiced and his stomach hardened and grew bigger. Various medical tests quickly indicated that something was significantly wrong as Jharrell's cries expressed that he was in a great deal of discomfort.
At just 3 months of age, a large hematoma appeared on Jharrell's cheek. Looking like the it was ready to burst, Jharrell was flown from Maui to Oahu's Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where Jharrell was diagnosed with bilary atresia, a potentially life threatening medical condition that happens in about 1 out of 20,000 children. This condition, in which the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent, restricts or prohibits bile flow from the liver. Over time, this lack of flow could lead to irreversible liver damage and possibly death. The only effective treatments appear to be certain surgeries or liver transplantation.
At a very young age, Jharrell underwent a Kasai procedure. The clogged bile duct was cut and his small intestine directly connected to the liver. The surgery was successful, but he is still very susceptible to infection.
Jharrell is in and out of hospitals and has been poked more than a hundred times because of frequent blood work and line placement procedures. Jharrell thrives and lives each day happily while awaiting a liver transplant. He is monitored closely by his doctor and transplant team at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. Fortunately, his mom's liver is a perfect match.
Through the guidance of the Children's Organ Transplant Association, a fundraising campaign was organized. Volunteers worked hard in organizing and supporting fundraising events. John, Hayde, Jharrell, and younger brother Ethan praise God for all the people who have helped. With the support of family, friends, Maui churches, Maui Adventist School, co-workers, local community and strangers, the $65,000 campaign goal for the transplant was reached.
Jharrell was scheduled for the transplant on Jan. 12, 2009. On the way to California, the Sim family met with Pastor Tim Nelson and fellow Kihei church members at the Honolulu International Airport for an anointing. With faith in God and peace in their hearts, the family waited. Then, just four days before the scheduled transplant, Jharrell and his family were notified by the chief of the transplant staff that the latest blood work indicated a slight improvement in Jharrell's liver function and the transplant could be postponed.
When he heard the news, Jharrell exclaimed in the presence of his doctor, "God answered our prayers!" He was very excited to return to Maui. He told his parents that he was happy to be able to see his schoolmates very soon.
"Despite Jharrell's condition, we are at peace when he goes to school because we know that he is in good hands," said John and Hayde Sim. "We are very thankful to the three dedicated teachers at Maui Adventist School. Mrs. Nelson, Mr. and Mrs. Ramos give extraordinary support and understanding of Jharrell's medical condition."
At school, Jharrell participates as if nothing were wrong. He plays, studies, sings and participates along with his schoolmates. He never complains about the task at hand and he never uses his condition as an excuse. Jharrell's efforts to do things well have been a wonderful reminder to everyone around him to always do the best with the gifts the Lord has provided.
Kim Ramos, one of Jharrell's teachers at the school, shared how she was talking with Jharrell one day and asked, "Do you want me to pray with you?"
He replied, "Yes!" and they both bowed their heads. And before Kim got a word out, Jharrell started praying aloud, thanking God for loving him and taking care of him.
With tears in her eyes, Kim listened to the humble prayer of a then 4-year-old. "It was an amazing experience just to see the faith Jharrell has in the Lord," she said.
Though Jharrell's liver is badly damaged and needs a transplant, many are joining the Sim family in praying for a miracle that Jharrell's liver will continue to improve so that he will not need the transplant after all.
For updates on Jharrell's condition, visit his website at www.cotaforJharrellS.com.