A Host Family’s Story

A Host Family’s Story

Barbara Chicollo, Host for Marlon Johnson (10 months of age) from Jamaica, December 2008

My heart breaks every time I see a sick child, but even more so when I hear that they cannot get treatment for one reason or another.  I heard about Gift of Life several years ago, so when it came time to choose a charity for the Long Island Chapter of the Caribbean Tourism Organization to donate proceeds of our fundraiser, GOL was tops on my list.  Not only did I have the pleasure of co-chairing the committee for the fundraiser, but then I was offered the opportunity to do even more by hosting this 10 month old little guy and his mom from Jamaica for a few days over the Christmas holidays while the host family went on an annual family visit.

When he arrived in New York to go to the host family, he appeared tired and weak.  His surgery was scheduled for 4 days later.  The surgery went so well that he was discharged after only 2 days in the hospital…  That weekend, they came to stay with me for ten days.  In that short period of time, I saw huge improvements in his health and behavior.  He ate and drank everything that was put in his mouth.  He was cheerful and eager.  I brought him to my sister’s “big Italian Christmas eve” and everyone enjoyed him thoroughly, especially my sister’s Labrador retriever, who couldn’t get in enough “kisses.”  Everywhere I brought him that week; he had a great time, and was very pleasant.  It is remarkable how quickly he healed.  He was “discharged” by the doctor only 11 days after surgery–and free to go home.