Monday, August 20, 2012

KCAT CAN: A mother's strength

A mother's strength
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
August 20, 2012

Joann Pacaña and her husband Michael had their first child Gabrielle Mikhail on Sept. 27, 2011 in Cebu City. She is fondly called Bielle. “Sometime we even call her Pedring because she was born during typhoon Pedring,” Joann quips.

It is only now that Joann could laugh about things after depression took over her life when she learned that Bielle had congenital heart disease.

When Bielle was born, her pediatrician detected that there was something wrong with her heartbeat pattern. After a month, Bielle underwent a 2D ECG  and confirmed to be suffering from Tetralogy of Fallot, commonly known as the Blue Baby Syndrome.

The doctor explained to Joann and Michael what was going on inside Baby Bielle’s heart to let them understand.  Michael did not show any sign of weakness and tried to understand everything that the doctor was saying. But Joann didn’t want to continue hearing what the doctor had to say about her baby.

“I felt like I was still inside that room where a machine was trying to judge my baby’s heart condition, where the doctor was the one deciding for my baby’s life. How dare he predict the life span of my baby?!” Joann says.

When they got home, Joann went inside their room and laid Baby Bielle on the bed. “How could she have such an unusual condition when she seemed so calm and healthy?” Tears kept pouring down her face, but she did not want her baby to feel that something was wrong.


Everyone in their family researched the internet about Baby Bielle’s condition. Articles were passed around family members and friends, and alternatives to fix baby Bielle’s heart were dug up. Everyone — except Joann.

For Joann, everything that was happening was a bad dream, that she would soon wake up from. She believed her daughter did not need any help, that Baby Bielle did not need surgery, and she would be fine in a month or so. “I was hoping for a miracle — just like in the movies — where everyone would wake up and the sickness would be gone,” Joann recalls.

But deep in her heart, she knew that it was not like that; she was caught in denial.

“Why me? Why Baby Bielle?” Joann was mad at just about everything especially so that she took care of herself and the baby when she was pregnant. “I was angry at the world, I was mad at myself, my husband, my family and my OB for reassuring me that my baby’s condition was fine despite the chickenpox I had during my pregnancy,” relates Joann.


Months passed and nothing was being done with Baby Bielle’s heart condition. “Where would we get the R1M for the surgery? Would the surgery guarantee that my baby would be fine forever? What if the surgery fails?” were some of the questions that worried Joann.

In March, 2012, Baby Bielle displayed signs of uneasiness and was catching her breath. Her whole body turned blue and then she collapsed. They tried to revive her by pressing her palm and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After about a minute, Baby Bielle regained consciousness and was giggling again. She just had a tet spell.

The doctor told them that if they were not able to revive her when she had a tet spell, that could be fatal. He then advised that Baby Bielle go through the surgery as soon as possible.

That was the time Joann realized her daughter’s condition was not something that could be just outgrown or could be entrusted to a miracle. It is definitely not bad to hope for a miracle but Joann realized that while waiting for that miracle, she could start raising funds for her baby’s open heart surgery?


It took Joann almost nine months before doing something about her daughter’s heart problem. But all these helped her to be stronger.

As they asked for assistance in the different social media, they would get varied responses, well wishes, doubtful comments, mockery, encouragements, and discouragements. “But one thing’s for sure — this is one heck of a battle that we will never give up on!” claims Joann.

Joann and Michael Pacaña needs to come up with R1M within a month because Baby Bielle needs to have the open-heart surgery before she turns one year old on September 27. They are doing their best raising funds to fix their daughter’s heart. Buy a Gab_T shirt for R200 in either white or gray. Contact: Joann at 09239156355 or Michael at 09152859990. Visit:


I have a favor to ask, can you include my grandmother, Lola Anit, in your prayers? She suffered a stroke, had an open-brain surgery to remove the blood clot and has not woken up yet since then. Please join us in praying for her. Thank you.

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