Parents hit halfway mark in $2m goal to help girl

Two-year-old Yujia, seen here with her mother, Madam Chua, was born with oesophageal atresia and has to be fed through a tube. Her parents hope to raise enough money for her to have surgery in the US.
Two-year-old Yujia, seen here with her mother, Madam Chua, was born with oesophageal atresia and has to be fed through a tube. Her parents hope to raise enough money for her to have surgery in the US. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Last June, Madam Jamie Chua and her husband, Mr Xie Wenlong, embarked on a bid to raise $2 million to fund treatment for their daughter's rare birth defect.

Two-year-old Xie Yujia was born with oesophageal atresia, which affects about one in 2,500 babies.

Children with this condition are missing part of their oesophagus, which connects the mouth and stomach, and therefore cannot eat through their mouths.

Her parents have now crossed the $1.2 million mark and hope to hit their target by the end of this year, then travel to the United States for two operations at the Boston Children's Hospital next year that will hopefully enable her to eat normally.

The couple began publicising their fund-raising efforts via crowdfunding website Indiegogo, and later expanded their efforts to other platforms like Giveasia.


    Baby Yujia's fund-raising campaign: $597,443.16

    The parents of Xie Yujia, who was born without part of her oesophagus, hopes to take her to the Boston Children's Hospital in the United States for reconstructive surgery.

    Standard Chartered Marathon Run For Good 2014:$377,483.29

    A donation drive by runners for various charities.

    Help the family of Mr Kenny Tan: $77,881.89

    A fund-raiser for the family of Mr Kenny Tan Chee Keong, who died of cancer, started by two of Mr Tan's secondary school friends.


    Save Baby Yujia - Help her eat by her mouth: US$184,822 (S$249,280)

    Support Davina: US$55,300 (S$74,586)

    For the family of Ms Davina Huang, who died last year after a snowboarding accident left her with serious brain injuries.

    Battle against Stage 4 metastatic cancer: US$38,929 (S$52,507.45)

    A campaign started by 46-year-old Chek Ming Tam, who is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. She needs the funds to pay for living expenses, medical treatment and the care of her four-year-old son and her mother.

"After we caught media attention, contributions came in fast. We raised over $100,000 in one week," said the 31-year-old housewife.

"Later, the donations slowed down. But after we appeared on a local Chinese variety show in October last year, the contributions came in again."

In addition to contributions from members of the public, the couple also received donations from companies like Neo Garden Catering and Bengawan Solo.

Madam Chua has to suction saliva from Yujia's oesophagus up to three times an hour so that she does not choke. She is fed through a tube which runs directly into her stomach and is unable to eat solids.

Only Madam Chua and her mother have mastered the art of suctioning out Yujia's saliva so far, although they are now training their helper to do it.

While Yujia has undergone surgery in Singapore, her oesophagus has been left scarred and still does not function normally.

"Yujia has been through so much, so we finally made the decision to go there (the US)," said Madam Chua.

In Boston, Yujia will undergo two operations in six months that use special techniques that will enable her oesophagus to grow and heal more effectively.

To help achieve their target, Madam Chua and her husband are planning a fund-raising concert in a 500-capacity auditorium at *Scape in November.

The couple have also set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of Yujia's condition and encourage donations.

However, the Xie family say they have received criticism from some, mostly online, about the authenticity of their cause. According to Madam Chua, some people feel that she and her husband might just "take the money and run".

However, Madam Chua and her husband do not let such remarks get to them.

"We hope our campaign sends positive energy to all families with children who need special treatment," said Mr Xie, 41, an events organiser.

The couple hope that donors' generosity will mean Yujia will finally be able to eat using her mouth.

"To us, it is quite a surprise," added Madam Chua.

"We didn't expect so much love and help from so many people. We want to thank the KK Hospital doctors and nurses, and everyone who has been supportive of us."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline Parents hit halfway mark in $2m goal to help girl. Subscribe