A Story of Determination of a Mother and her child Hans #HelpUsHelpHans

This is the continuing story of Hans who was born with a heart defect that limited the probability of his making it into adulthood. Hans arrived in the US on May 28th for the second of his two heart surgeries. This one will give him the best chance at a long life - a probability that was far from certain after he was born.

Ciaralyn, Hans' mother is a pediatric nurse in the Philippines. She has dedicated her working life to serving others and nursing them back to health. When she and her husband welcomed their child Hans into the world three years ago, it became clear that he had major heart problems. The chance of reaching teenage years or adulthood were very slim. While Ciaralyn had helped so many others, the irony was that she was not able to cure her own son as the cost of the operation in the Philippines was incredibly expensive.

Like any mother, she was determined to do everything she possibly could to save her son. She became aware of the Rotary Gift of Life program through a distant friend that had received a Gift of Life operation many years in the past. She succeeded in getting Hans accepted to be brought to the US for a life-saving operation. All seemed right with the world but alas there were to be many obstacles ahead!

Hans first operation took place in 2019. Here is a photo at that time with his mom and medical staff

Ciaralyn and Hans arrived in Wyckoff in 2019 and stayed with Paul and Carmen Platek from the Wyckoff-Midland Park Rotary club. When Pre-op checks were done, it was determined that the operation was too risky, the chance of success was very low and Hans would have to return to the Philippines with no surgery. We were all devastated.

However, Ciaralyn requested to speak to the surgeon to plead with him to do the operation, as it was Hans' only chance. A meeting was arranged so she could hear it first hand from the surgeon. However, by the time the meeting happened, the surgeon had conferred with another surgeon at Northwell Health Cohen Children's Medical Center who felt that he could safely perform the operation.
Not only did the Northwell Health surgeon perform a successful operation, but he also committed to performing a needed follow up operation a few years later. That time has now come....
Paul and Carmen Platek were the host family from the Wyckoff Midland Park Rotary Club and they opened their home to Ciaralyn and Hans for the few months of their stay in the US.
Paul and Carmen alone have hosted 12 Gift of Life families over the years.

2021 Trip

Fast forward to 2021 and it is time for the follow-up operation to take place. The surgeon was ready and two host families had been identified - Bob Klingen and his wife Charlene, along with Peter and Wendy Brannigan.

Please watch the short video below from Paul Platek, Rotarian

When the family attempted to buy tickets for the 15 hour flight, no airlines would sell them a ticket because of Hans' low oxygen levels. The surgeon provided a letter saying he was safe to travel in spite of the lower levels. The airline said they would only take him if they could locate two oxygen tanks to travel on the plane with them and they had to buy four airline tickets instead of the two that they needed. Rotarians scrambled on both continents to secure oxygen tanks for the journey. The cost of the flights and oxygen tanks ended up costing $7,700. The family secured loans so that the flight could be boarded.

So Hans is on his way. His family had to take out a loan to pay for four seats and two oxygen cylinders, even though only his mother and Hans were actually flying.

This is a Tracker snapshot of their flight on May 28th. They are due to arrive on Friday night at 10:22pm

Photos from the Flight

Photos sent by his mom Ciaralyn from the plane today May 28th. Hans looks like he is having fun, full of anticipation and resting for the next phase of life's journey
Jennifer Padolina who runs the Gift of Life program for our District and is from the Philippines, picked them up on Friday night at JFK airport and they are spending their first weekend with her at her home recovering from the 15 hour flight. We hope there are no more obstacles, but if they come up, you can be sure that Ciaralyn will use her full energy to overcome them, with a little help from her friends here in the US and at home in the Philippines.

All Systems Go for the operation tomorrow, Wednesday, June 9th. Below is Dr. Meyer, Ciaralyn and Hans during his final pre-operation visit. Please say a prayer that the operation will be successful.

Hans on his way through the corridors to have the major heart surgery. Would that we are all so calm and trusting for such a significant moment!

First steps after the operation during recovery at Cohens Childrens Medical Center.

Today Hans had the operation and is recovering well. The doctor said that everything went very well and the oxygen levels are good. Hans is in the ICU recovering. He will be in hospital for about one week and will come back to a Rotary family home to recover further. Thanks to Northwell Health #CohenHeroes and Dr. Meyer and his team for their incredible work. Hans is now one of the #CohenHeroes.

Thanks also to all who donated in the last few days. We have reached 80% of our goalĀ and still need your help. Continued prayers are greatly appreciated.

Ciaralyn is very thankful to all who have contributed both in the US and in the Philippines to help fund Hans' heart operation. Please watch her video below recorded a few days after the surgery.

Hans has now been discharged from hospital and is getting stronger every day. Just before leaving the Cohens Children's Hospital he was even making music - see video below!

Hans is now recovering at our home in Wyckoff. He is much more content though still experiencing discomfort as the wounds heal.

He enjoys learning his numbers and letters on the iPad with some games that we are tempted to play!!

His last scheduled appointment with the surgeon is this coming Thursday and hopefully he and his mom will be able to return to the Philippines in 3 weeks time.

Fantastic News!!! Hans just completed his final medical check up and is cleared to return to the Philippines in a few weeks. Everything has gone really well and he is now on a path to getting stronger and living a very fruitful life.

Thanks to Mr. Madigan for taking Ciaralyn and Hans to their final appointment in Long Island. As you can see below he treated Hans to some special ice-cream.

Hans is on a low fat diet for a while, but was able to enjoy some ice cream to celebrate.

Our neighbors in Wyckoff helped Hans celebrate with a beautiful sign that greeted him the next morning. Click play on the video below. Thanks to Shana and Dylan for preparing this special treat!!

Goal Reached! Thanks to incredible generosity from friends both near and far, we were able to pass our goal of $5,000 to help defray some of the costs of the expensive flights you would have read about at the start of this story. Although we have reached this target, we are still accepting donations below that would help defray even more of the $7,700 total flights cost. So there is still time to donate.

We would like to thank all donors and especially those in the Philippines that responded so generously including Ciaralyn's family and college friends. Your support has been really appreciated.

Hans has been much happier since the operation is over. Here is just one example....
Rotary Club of Wyckoff-Midland Park, sponsors of the surgery, got the chance to meet Ciaralyn and Hans at our weekly meeting.
Ciaralyn would like to thank the Rotary host families for taking care of them during their journey to the US. Hans is smiling a lot more than before the operation and is looking forward to getting home to see his father after all these weeks.
Peter and Wendy Brannigan. Bob and Charlene Klingen
After receiving her second Vaccine dose and with Rotarians helping to move up their flights without having to pay a change fee, Ciaralyn and Hans headed back to the Philippines. They will have to quarantine in a hotel for 9 days upon their return before finally returning to their own home.
Hans is ready to take one the world!! Final departure from JFK. Flight Tracker showing their arrival in the Philippines
We wish Hans continued successful recovery from the operation and look forward to seeing all of the great things he will achieve with his new found health. We would like to thank all of those who donated to the GoFundMe to help support this life changing operation - you have truly made an impact and it is very much appreciated.

Rotary clubs fund bringing children with heart conditions to the US. We have volunteer surgeons that share their incredible skills FOR FREE along with hospitals that provide the operating room and hospital stays for a nominal fee. This means that a small Rotary club like ours here in Wyckoff and Midland Park can have a huge impact on many families by saving their children's lives. Rotarians help with visas and travel arrangements, provide accommodation during the stay, and assist with doctors' appointments and post operative care. Together as a team we can do so much more than we would ever be able to achieve as individuals.

Our Rotary Club is always open to welcoming new members that have a desire to use their talents to help others. Please visit our website for more information on how you can make a difference. http://www.wyckoffmidlandparkrotary.org


Photos by Hans family and Rotarians