Mai Life November 2014 - Saving Sam_img_0








Mai Life November 2014 - Saving Sam_img_1













      Most eight year olds don’t fancy injections. But young Samson Elijah Traill has grown accustomed to them. Since Samson was four years old he has made trips from his home on the outskirts of Navua to Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital every three weeks to get his jabs.

        While most children his age would be enjoying the outdoors, Samson would be fighting back tears after getting a needle.   The medication  was  necessary to



prevent bacteria from entering his lungs. He had been diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a heart disorder in which two major blood vessels leading from the heart are open. If untreated, the disease can cause problems with breathing, poor weight gain and heart failure.

     Samson’s father, John Traill, who went with him on his hospital visits, felt helpless as his only son grew constantly more fatigued and his weight dropped.

     “I was advised by his doctor at CWM Hospital  early  this  year  that  Samson would



need surgery to repair his heart valve, but when   they  mentioned   that  they   would need   to  open  up  his chest  to  fix it,  the operation  sounded very risky,”  John said.

      So John decided against it and continued with the three-weekly injections while he prayed for a miracle. And it came, like most miracles, unexpectedly as John was fishing in a pond outside his home.

      “I received this phone call from Kalesi, a woman Samson and I had met at CWM Hospital. She told me about this British couple who run a charity called ‘Children of Fiji’.  Kalesi   said  the  charity  could  help

my son.”









Mai Life November 2014 - Saving Sam_img_2


Mai Life November 2014 - Saving Sam_img_3











  Peter and Margaret Long are founders of Children of Fiji, a registered charity with the declared aim of advancing the education, health and welfare of children of Fiji and to relieve their poverty. Together they have built kindergartens in Nakasi, Kadavu and Vanua Levu. They have also funded the construction of two bridges for children who had to otherwise wade through a river to get to school. When they were told about Samson’s case by Kalesi, they immediately contacted John and asked him to bring his son to Suva to meet a visiting pediatric cardiac surgeon from India. What the child heart specialist found was not good news to John. The blood vessels had enlarged. Surgical repair needed to be done – and fast.

“The doctor explained that the surgical procedure would not involve opening up Samson’s chest but rather inserting a long thin tube through a small incision in Samson’s inner thigh and guiding it to his heart.”

What was also mentioned was the cost of air travel, accommodation and the surgery in India. With no medical insurance, John was in



no financial state to pay for it. But along came the Longs and after a chaotic week of run-arounds for passports and then visas, a total of $24,276 later, John and his son were on a plane bound for the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi, India.

         Peter Long, a former schoolteacher turned philanthropist explained: “We had to divert funds allocated for other projects to Samson’s cause once we became aware of his condition. We also launched a Facebook appeal that was successful in raising around $3,000 for Samson within a few days.”

        Margaret, also a retired schoolteacher said they had already planned to leave Fiji within a week when they heard about Samson’s situation, so they had to sort all his travel and accommodation arrangements first. “I don’t know how we did it but everything kind of fell into place.”

       John and Samson were terrified of having to navigate their way through Nadi International Airport to board their flight. Raffles Gateway Hotel in Nadi pitched in to help the father and son, giving them a night’s stay including meals and making sure that they boarded their plan on time – all free of charge.

       “I was nervous. It was the first time for my son and I to be out of the country, and here we were on a plane and in India. I was even more nervous for Samson as it

was the first time for him to have surgery.



         When we arrived, we met the same Indian doctor who had advised us to undergo this operation. He assured us that all would be well and that comforted me.

        “Before he was wheeled in to the operating theatre, I told him to be strong. I am extremely proud of him because he was so calm. Samson’s a strong boy.”

        John, on the other hand, was extremely anxious as he sat in the waiting room. Just 45 minutes later, Samson’s doctor emerged with a smile and thumbs up. “The procedure is over and young Samson is fine.”

        When maiLife and the Longs visited the family at their home in Navua, Samson came running to meet the British couple.

       “When we first saw Sam, he was underweight and lethargic and to see him now running about outside with his siblings is such a thrill. It’s lovely to see that this little boy can now lead a normal life,” the Longs said.

        His appetite has improved and his body weight has increased, his Dad said. Samson now can kiss his three-weekly hospital injections goodbye as all test results have returned as ‘normal’. Samson can now look forward to attending school for the first time next year at Navua’s Rampur Primary.

        “I am indebt to Peter and Margaret and the Children of Fiji charity for giving my son a new life. There are no words that can express my gratitude,” John said







© Mai Life magazine