By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
THE parents of 10-year-old Tarique Miller, who suffers from a rare skin condition, are asking for the public's assistance in satisfying a $70,000 medical bill from a US hospital that treated the youngster during the Summer after a severe swelling attack.
Tarique suffers from hereditary angioedema, a condition that causes recurring and severe swelling in various parts of the body. He was diagnosed at Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital in 2014, but had his most recent and scariest attack yet on the first day of his stay in Florida in July.
After experiencing severe swelling in his face, Tarique was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and was kept there overnight. The family is grateful for the stellar treatment provided by the medical team, but the hospital now must be compensated.
"I was recently invoiced a sum of $70,000 from Jackson Memorial for the emergency visit, but have no way of paying this," said Angelica Miller, Tarique's mother. "Where do you find $70,000 from? That is not money that you just pull out of your back pocket."
Since Tarique's diagnosis in 2014, Ms Miller and her family have been through an emotional roller coaster that has left them financially depleted.
Over the past year Ms Miller has resorted to water drives, cook-outs and letters of support to assist her son as best she can.
"I tell people I have not slept since 2014. It's hard to sleep. I have to at least keep myself up in the event Tarique has an attack in his sleep. Anything can happen to him," the stressed mother told Tribune Health.
In people with hereditary angioedema, during flare-ups their bodies experience major swelling, particularly in the chest cavity, resulting in restricted breathing. Patients suffering with the condition are unable to produce the necessary protein needed to reduce swelling and fluid retention in the body.
"It just has been so troubling. Many times I ask why does my child have to go through this and why do I have to go through this. Sometimes I just sit in the corner of my room and scream. It's just so much," said Mr Miller.
"Sometimes Tarique asks why he always has to be in pain and take medication. I am praying for the day this all comes to an end."
To combat the attacks - which can last up to six days - Tarique requires a synthetic protein. Once this current debt is satisfied, Ms Miller said their attention must turn to securing medication for her son.
"Usually our practice has been to keep medication on hand should Tarique experience an attack," she said.
However, because Tarique's episodes have been occurring much more frequently than before - several times this year alone - the supply of medication has been depleted. And Tarique's parents have not been able to replenish the medication as quickly as they would have liked to because one dose alone costs about $6,000.
"Doctors in the US have advised both my family and local health officials to keep at least two vials of Tarique's medication in New Providence. In instances where the drug is not available we have had to raise the funds needed to purchase the medicine," she said.
Ms Miller said although the last five years have been an extremely challenging journey for the family, she is not giving up on her son.
"I know God has a plan for him and I am going to do everything I can to make sure he is doing well and he stays with me. I know God has not brought us this far to leave us," she said.
Ms Miller is grateful to all those who have assisted her family over the years.
Those interested in helping Tarique, she added, even in the smallest way possible, can contact her at 242-447-9311.