By Mike Pearson, News staff
When her daughter suffered a medical emergency early last year, Christiana MacCarthy wanted nothing more than to be at her side.
But MacCarthy was thousands of kilometres away in Ghana and lacked the resources needed to come to Canada.
Without warning, 17-year-old Sandra Kumordzie collapsed at her aunt’s house where she lived on Jan. 16, 2012. She underwent two emergency surgeries at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Hamilton General Hospital. She was placed in a medically induced coma and her future was full of uncertainty.
Within hours, Sandra’s school community sprung into action. Staff and students at Bishop Tonnos raised more than $2,000 to reunite Sandra with her mother, and thanks to the support of the Good Shepherd Centre of Hamiton, MacCarthy has been near her daughter ever since.
On Oct. 9, Sandra and her family thanked the Bishop Tonnos community for their unwavering support.
Sandra’s family members also thanked the Good Shepherd Centre of Hamilton, which provided accommodations for Sandra and her mother in downtown Hamilton.
Sandra, who has a congenital condition called arteriovenous malformation, is non-verbal, but communicates using a computer screen attached to her wheelchair. Sandra’s condition affects the connection between the arteries and veins in her body. During a school assembly, Sandra, now 19, spelled out the phrase, “thank you” and members of her family expressed their gratitude for the community’s continuing support.
“I also want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” MacCarthy told the assembly. “Way back home, before coming here, you helped me get my tickets to come and I’m very grateful.”
Sandra’s aunt Alice Ntow thanked Bishop Tonnos chaplain Filomena Tassi for supporting the family and staying at Sandra’s bedside whenever possible.
In the moments after mother and daughter were reunited, Sandra’s blood pressure improved. She spent months in a coma, but today she has returned to school on a part-time basis with a goal to complete her secondary school diploma.
Teacher Rita Salverda said Sandra is an active participant in class discussions.
“I feel privileged to have her in my class,” Salveda said. “I know how much Sandra enjoys learning.”
Before her medical setback, Sandra was preparing to join a contingent of BT students on a humanitarian mission to the Dominican Republic called DREAMS. The acronym stands for Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support. Sandra was also a cheerleader. At the Thanksgiving ceremony, Sandra was named an honourary cheerleader for life. The cheerleading squad also performed a celebratory cheer in her honour.
In a tribute video, classmates describe Sandra as a music lover and a fashion guru with a contagious smile.
During the Oct. 9 ceremony, Sandra joined all staff and students at BT for a group photo on the football field. Participants spelled out the word “thanks” as a small airplane circled the site to take a photo.
Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/FJyflSkgiP0