KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 ― Three times a week, 13-year-old Jessica Magdalena Jaimis leaves her house at 4.30am to make the one-and-half hour trip by car to the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital in Sabah.
Accompanied by her sister, she’s been doing this for the past four years since she was first diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 10 in 2019.
But the weekly hospital trips, which require staying four hours for dialysis each time, are not what Jessica hates most about her condition.
It’s having the permcath dangling on her chest and not being able to wear what she wants.
The piece of plastic insertion in the external jugular vein is needed for patients requiring haemodialysis.
“I want to wear what other girls my age wear,” said Jessica, who is obsessed with K-pop, especially (G)I-Dle, Blackpink and Baby Monster.
“I want to eat what I want and I want to do sports like my classmates.”
Her favourite subject in school is English and like other teenagers her age, she enjoys dressing up and experimenting with makeup.
But unlike others, Jessica who lives in Tamparuli, Tuaran, which is on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu, suffers from end stage renal failure which means her kidneys are no longer able to work at a level needed for day-to-day life.
Raised by a single father who’s a mechanic and the youngest of six siblings, her chances of receiving a renal transplant, the curative treatment for kidney failure, are slim as it requires more money than they can afford.
Despite this, her family continues to hope that Jessica can undergo the transplant as her older sister Jeslina Adriana is a suitable organ donor.
Jeslina, 21, helps their dad earn money by working part-time at the market helping her aunts sell fruits and vegetables.
Jessica, who looks perfectly healthy except that she gets tired easily, wants to be a model or singer when she grows up.
To make her dream come true for a day, the Children’s Wish Society of Malaysia organised a photo shoot for her and took her shopping for clothes a week before her big day.
She got to dress up, had her makeup professionally done and had the time of her life posing in different outfits.
The four-hour long shoot sponsored by Talent Shop Sabah exhausted Jessica but like a true pro, she carried on enthusiastically, determined to give it all she had.
“Most important for us is to fulfill a child’s wish and bring a smile back to the child’s face while facing medical challenges in their life,” CWS Malaysia president Teoh Teik Hoong.
Set up primarily to aid children suffering from terminal and life-threatening illness by granting them a wish, the Children’s Wish Society Malaysia reaches out to about 50 to 60 children a year.
“We started 16 years ago and since then, we’ve been blessed with smiles from all corners of the country,” he said adding that they get their cases from government hospitals.
“We’re glad we had the opportunity to grant Jessica her wish,” said Teoh.
He added that they hoped to raise enough funds so she could undergo a transplant as money was most likely needed to travel to a KL government hospital, accommodation and food.
Those who wish to help can send donations to Jessica’s Bank Simpanan Nasional account (12995-41-00044787-4). Please send a copy of the receipt to this WhatsApp link if a donation has been made.