When 28-month-old Julia Brock’s family learned of her life-threatening liver complications, they were launched into a whirlwind of doctors, treatments and an agonizingly long waiting game.
According to Traci Brock, the child’s mother, doctors said they could not locate Julia’s portal vein, a vein that connected her liver with the rest of her body.
“All they could tell (our family) in Charlotte was ‘liver transplant,’” said Yvonne Singletary of Rockingham, Julia’s great-grandmother. “Then we found this doctor online that gave us some hope.”
The doctor, located in Chicago, Ill., mentioned a surgery that could give Julia another chance.
In order to afford the surgery, however, family members came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser for Julia. The fundraiser was held in Rockingham earlier this month, where donations were taken and hot dogs and raffle tickets were sold for a dollar each.
“Lots of people told us we wouldn’t make much selling hot dogs,” Singletary said. “The day of the fundraiser, we brought in right at $4,000. In total, with the raffle tickets and people giving donations, we made almost $6,500.”
She said she was amazed by the kindness of the locals who helped out.
“Even total strangers would donate,” Singletary said. “It was amazing. I was just so proud of Richmond County. We may not have any industry, most of us don’t have any money, but they’re still the best people in the world.”
Local businesses also donated items to be raffled off during the fundraiser.
“It was really appreciated because these are ordinary people,” Singletary said. “(Traci) is a school teacher. She had to take unpaid leave because she didn’t have enough time built up for all of the time they’d need in Chicago.”
Once the family had enough funding for the surgery, Julia made the trip to Chicago.
“Her surgery was three weeks ago today,” Traci said. “The doctors put in a shunt (or narrow band) where most of the blood was going. What they were hoping to do was get the blood to back up and build up enough pressure to go in the portal vein to make it grow and open up.”
“The doctor said (Julia’s) condition was really more severe than what he thought,” Singletary said. “He’d only seen one other case like hers, but they did do the surgery anyway. They did a scan to find out how it was progressing — to see if it had expanded any once the blood got through it.”
On Wednesday morning, the family received good news.
“Her portal vein is growing now … ,” Traci said. “It’s looking really good.”
The family is hopeful that Julia will be able to be discharged by the weekend.
“The surgeon said he’ll want to see her next week as an outpatient,” Traci said. “Then we can go home, and I can’t wait to get home to North Carolina.”
In 2008, Traci worked as a music teacher in Hamlet and lived in Rockingham with her grandparents. She has since moved her residence to Charlotte.
“Our family has been really grounded in our faith,” Traci said. “We’ve all just believed along the line that it was all in God’s control. No matter what ended up happening, she was going to be OK. We firmly believe that it’s all God’s doing. The surgeons had done everything they could do, it was up to God to do the rest.”
Both women said they were extremely thankful for the outpouring of support from the community.
“At the fundraiser, I was amazed at how many people came out, even though most of them had no clue who I or my daughter was,” Traci said. “Just the outpouring of support — there were several times I almost ended up in tears. It was hard for me to believe that many people cared about my daughter … that’s something I’ll never forget.”
“I was just so proud that, basically, the people in Richmond County, the businesses, everybody gave her a chance,” Singletary said. “They gave her family some hope, that she could live a normal life.”
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.