VIDEO: Sick teen meets Tessanne and Yendi

Tessanne, Yendi hail teen as an inspiration to all people

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, January 31, 2015

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YANIQUE Chin on Friday got her wish to meet her two favourite personalities, recording artiste Tessanne Chin, and beauty queen and television personality Yendi Phillipps.


Chin, 18, whose story was featured in last Sunday's Observer, was born with a rare congenital heart condition known as truncus arteriousus, in which the heart was not properly formed. Instead of having a separate pulmonary artery and aorta, each with its own three-leafed valves, Chin's heart has only one blood vessel or trunk leaving the heart, which then branches into blood vessels that go to the lungs and the body, thus preventing proper breathing and blood circulation. This can collapse at any time.


Chin has had to be on constant medication with regular visits to the doctor ,in order to stay alive.


As a result, at three months old Chin's mother was told that she would not live beyond age three years. When she got to three, she was then told six, followed by 12. However, on New Year's Day Chin celebrated her 18th birthday and is happily looking forward to many more.


And after naming long life and happiness as her number one wish, Chin noted meeting the two celebrities as next on her wish list. This was made possible through Digicel which immediately put the wheels in motion after reading the young girl's story.


Both Tessanne and Phillips, who noted that Chin's story turned out to be an inspiration to them, were teary eyed as they met the teen at the Andrew's Memorial Hospital on Friday.


"You are one of those people who show the world that, against all odds, it is important to have a positive attitude towards life," Tessanne told Chin. "To show the world that, no matter what you are facing, you can change your attitude towards that and anything is possible. I'm so proud of you and I am so happy to have met you today, continue in that strength and in that belief because it is possible."


The international artiste said that when she read the story in the Sunday Observer, it reminded her that no matter what cards you have been dealt in life, regardless of the situation you are in, you can change your attitude towards it and succeed.


"She is a light in dark places, no matter where she goes she is going to spread that beautiful light because it's in her heart," Tessanne said. "God has truly blessed her and called her for a time as this. I thank her for inspiring me," she said as she hugged the teen.


After wiping her tears, Phillips too expressed her joy for the opportunity to meet the Glenmuir High School student.


"I was in Egypt and I was having my last meal there, and when I read the article I literally bawled, not because you wanted to meet us - it wasn't that - but it was the essence of what you stood for. And I felt like I was in a place where I gained a lot of perspective and I found that you were just the icing on the perspective, and it is that no matter what it is we are going through the way we look at things and how we decide to approach something makes all the difference," she told the teen.


"You are an example to me, and, you for me are an example as to why I will continue to keep on doing what I am doing and that obstacles are merely figments of the imagination if we just continue to push through. So I want to thank you for inspiring me. As little as you are, your spirit is big! Your story is resounding and I think all of Jamaica can take a little bit of who you are and apply it to their lives, and it will be something that they are better for," Phillips said.


But while Yanique was surprised by the two celebrities standing in lab coats waiting for her in the conference room of the hospital, her mother was brought to tears after being told by marketing director at Digicel, Peter Lloyd that they, along with Facey Commodity Limited would be covering one year of her daughter's medical expenses, ranging from doctors' visits, blood tests and medication. This includes a three-day supply of four tablets for lung medication at a cost of $4000, to stop the pressure in the lung from building up. This is an everyday lifetime must-have for Chin in order to stay alive.


"At Digicel we have these two words called 'be extraordinary' and what they are all about is that every day ordinary Jamaicans are doing extraordinary things, and you definitely embodied that and you are an inspiration to us all and to the brand," Lloyd said. "You really made our day."


Dr Sharon McDonald, general manager of telecommunications at Facey Commodity, said that when she started reading Chin's story she got so emotional that she could not finish reading it. After applauding Chin for being a strong person, she told her that she was an example to others and truly an extraordinary person. She explained that a number of persons without illnesses where not where Chin is now emotionally.


Chief Executive Officer of the Andrews Memorial Hospital Dr Patric Rutherford, who was among the small gathering, said that in a world where there was so much cynicism, negatives and violence, Chin was like the blossom of a flower that exist to brighten our world and that she was an inspiration to all. He praised the corporate bodies for being more than money-making entities and also hailed Nelson Mandela Thompson, friend of Chin's family, for bringing the child's story to the attention of the Sunday Observer.


As Tessanne encouraged Chin to sing two songs Redemption Song and Don't Waste Your Time with her, Chin was overcome with joy.


"The feeling is overwhelming, very much," she said after finally being able to catch her breath. "This was really a surprise. When I walked in I expected to see more doctors and more nurses, instead I saw Tessanne and Yendi. Oh my God, I love these two public figures."


Dr Sandra Williams-Phillips, consultant paediatrician, paediatric and adolescent cardiologist, who follows and monitors persons with congenital heart problems, said that while many have died from truncus arteriousus, Chin is in fact the third of the three that have defied medicine, and are still alive in Jamaica. The other two being a 48-year-old man who has been married for 22 years and a 19-year-old male, both of whom she has been monitoring and treating.


"Many have died of the condition if you check in the hospital reports. Many," she said. "But with appropriate care Yanique can live a long, long life."


    

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