Kiara teen touched by community help to raise funds for lifesaving surgery in the USA


Maria Pittorino with her 16-year-old daughter Keera. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d481821
Maria Pittorino with her 16-year-old daughter Keera. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d481821

KIARA teenager Keera Pittorino, who has a rare birth defect, is touched by the community’s efforts to help raise funds to travel to the US for lifesaving surgery.

The 16-year-old started experiencing symptoms including abdominal pain in December 2015 before being diagnosed with intestinal malrotation in March 2017.

Intestinal malrotation is an abnormality that can happen in early pregnancy when a baby’s intestines form in the wrong position and cause symptoms such as pain, obstruction, nausea and weight loss.

Keera stopped going to school three years ago and went through countless doctor appointments, hospital stays, scans and treatment.

In August 2017, she underwent Ladd’s procedure, a procedure made for infants to alleviate symptoms, but her symptoms worsened and she experienced new ones as a result.

She started a GoFundMe page on March 18, with a goal of $300,000 to help fund surgeryto be completed by Cleveland Clinic’s Dr Kareem Abu-Elmagd.

The page has raised more than $14,800 so far.

Keera said her daily struggles included eating, exercising and symptoms like pain, reflux and headaches.

“Because I don’t eat, you get so weak and you always feel sick anyway if you don’t eat,” she said.

“It has gotten worse over time, each day is worse… there are times where it’s better and there are worse times but it is just horrible all the time.”

Keera said it would mean a lot to her if the community could help reach her fundraising goal.

“It feels really good – especially people that you haven’t seen or spoken to for ages that come out of the woodwork and helped,” she said.

16-year-old Keera Pittorino.

Her mother Maria said the surgery cost $350,000, not including accommodation, airfares and living expenses which they needed to pay for.

“We basically have to pay upfront and they will allow you to book the surgery,” she said.

“(Keera) has spoken to about four or five other people who had the surgery and their life has done a 180 (degree change).

“They were actually worse than what Keera was – a lot of them couldn’t even eat at all and they were on feeding tubes – and they have gone back to a normal life.

“That is what we really want – just her to go back to being a teenager and having teenage worries.

“Once we do that, that would be the end of this chapter and the start of next chapter.”

She said while there was no evidence of the defect being genetic, she was worried her 13-year-old son could be diagnosed as well.

Visit https://www.gofundme.com/keeras-malrotation-surgery.

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