Kernicterus is a threat for Cypriot babies

Vasili Kalisperas was born healthy and on his first birthday, on the 18th May, he was blind, deaf and quadriplegic…

Vasili Kalisperas was born on the 18th May 2012 a perfectly healthy baby. He was overdue, weighed 8lb and seemed so robust that his parents, Michael, 36, and Elena, 27, from Malvern, Worcestershire, nicknamed him their “Little Spartan”. One hour after delivery, staff thought mother and child were well enough to be sent home.

Now, a one-year-old, with his chubby cheeks, thick dark hair and huge almond-shaped eyes, Valisi looks much like any other baby of his age, but if you look closely you will realise that things are not exactly the way they should be. For example, he doesn’t respond to his sister Ellie’s singing or his mother’s voice. His eyes gaze blankly.

In fact, Vasili is blind, deaf and quadriplegic. According to his father Michael “he is ten months old and yet he is arguably less capable than on the day he was born”. The once healthy baby will never be able to walk, see or hear unless a scientific miracle happens.

It is very important to do everything we can to increase awareness among the UK Cypriot community about what happened in this case, which was a case of jaundice/kernicterus, especially because there are reasons to believe that people of Mediterranean descent are among the most vulnerable.

Deficiency of an enzyme called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase), according to some reports, is one of the potential causes behind jaundice/kornicterus. G6PD deficiency is an inherited condition and it appears to be common knowledge among experts that people of Mediterranean descent, including Italians, Greeks, Arabs, and Sephardic Jews, are among the most severely affected.

Increasing awareness is very important for many reasons. The most obvious reasons is to be as best prepared as possible to take steps in the direction of preventing it from happening. Another very important reason is to increase our support towards those that have to live with such traumatic problems. Solidarity among UK Cypriots is the most important reason for everything we do.

UKCY NEWS are planning to cover such issues regularly. Please visit the Kalisperas’ website and read their sad but also moving and inspiring story. They are heroes of life! Let’s keep them in our hearts and our thoughts. Also, visit the NHS website to find out about jaundice/kerrnicterus. You could also like their their facebook page “My Little Spartan”.