Little Andre loses battle with cancer

Little Andre loses battle with cancer

Staff reporter

Monday, January 25, 2021

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ANDRE Arnett, the five-year-old cancer patient whose mother appealed through the Jamaica Observer for assistance to secure him a life-saving bone marrow transplant, has died.

Andre passed away last Wednesday at Bustamante Hospital for Children, where he had been receiving chemotherapy treatment for several months.

Two days before he passed he delivered a painful message to his mother.

“He told me that he was tired and he wanted to stop fighting, and I said 'No man, you can't stop fighting now,' and when I asked him again he said he would keep fighting,” Andre's grieving mother, Ofalia Wilson, told the Observer yesterday.

But as his condition worsened, relatives and hospital staff encouraged Wilson to let her son know that it was okay for him to rest.

“But how could I tell him to let go when I still had hope?” the woman asked pleadingly.

She tried to say it when she spoke with him on Tuesday, but the words would not come. It was not until Wednesday morning when there was still no improvement in his condition, and she saw tears streaming down his face that she knew she had to let him go.

“I told him that I love him, and everybody loves him, and he is the strongest person I've ever known in this world, so if he wanted to stop fighting it was okay,” Wilson recalled emotionally.

“I told him that it was his choice. If he was ready to stop fighting I would respect his decision, but if he was willing to stay and keep fighting I am here with him,” said Wilson.

Within five minutes of her saying the words, Andre's vital signs began to drop, and the doctors rushed in to try to save him. Though they worked for several minutes to bring him back from the brink of death as they had several times before, this time they could not.

Even five days after he had passed Wilson was still numb with disbelief that the younger of her two sons had gone.

“I was not expecting it, even though the doctors told me that it did not look good, because they told me that about three times before, and it got really bad, and he bounced back,” she said.

“So this time when they told me I just said 'OK', because I thought that he would bounce back like he always did.”

But that was not to be, and her 29th birthday on January 16 was to be the last that she would celebrate with her son. A week later, she is making funeral arrangements.

The US$3,400 (approximately $494,000) that had been raised through GoFundMe was just a drop in the bucket compared to the over $30 million that was being sought for his bone marrow transplant. That money will now be redirected to his burial.

“I want to thank everyone who donated, and everyone who reached out to me to offer some support,” Wilson said.

“It really means a lot to us. And I am very grateful for everyone — the doctors, nurses, and everyone who tried to help.”

Andre was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma last May, a few weeks after he began complaining of pain in his arm and leg.

He began treatment immediately and was making significant progress, but the aggressive cancer returned in October.

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