|Pacific Media Watch|
Media hamper efforts to help baby
Title -- 5288 SAMOA: Media hamper efforts to help baby
Date -- 31 January 2008
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 30/1/08
Copyright - SMH/AAP
Status -- Unabridged
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MEDIA HAMPER EFFORTS TO HELP SAMOAN BABY
ADELAIDE (SMH Online/AAP/Pacific Media Watch): An Australian church offering to help a badly deformed Samoan baby get treatment says efforts have been frustrated by media seeking an exclusive story.
A member of an Adelaide church has said a Samoan television station refused to hand over scans taken of the child to Australian doctors because they did not want to lose the story - claims rejected by the news organisation.
Miracletina Nanai - known as Baby Miracle - was born in a Samoan village about five months ago with severe facial deformities and doctors initially told her parents not to feed her because she would not live.
After food was smuggled into the hospital, Miracle survived against the odds and is now home in the care of her parents.
The baby made international news when New Zealand immigration authorities refused her entry to get treatment, after a doctors' report advised Miracle would not be cured by surgery.
The South Pacific Islands Community Christian Church in Adelaide offered to try to arrange for the little girl to go to Australia for treatment after she was rejected by New Zealand.
But John Blackmore from Adelaide's South Pacific Islands Community Christian Church has said his group's efforts to help the child had been frustrated.
Blackmore, an administrator at the church, said he understood a Samoan TV station was refusing to release medical reports taken of Miracle because it did not want to give up the chance of an exclusive story.
"Because the TV channel is holding the bag, as they say, we have been trying to get the scans from them. They are refusing to hand them over. They are not being co-operative," Blackmore said.
"All we needed was the images, the CAT scans. The doctor here, he was going to organise everything - their airfares and everything.
"He (the doctor) is just waiting to get those scans. He says if he can do something they will act immediately," Blackmore said.
Another group, the THORN Ministry, has since been working with Baby Miracle's family in Samoa to fly the little girl to Miami, in the US, for treatment.
A decision on whether the girl will be taken to the US for surgery is expected as early as today (Wednesday).
The managing director of TV Samoa, Taufau Gardenia Aukuso, confirmed her organisation had some medical reports of Baby Miracle, but said they could not be released without the parents' permission.
Aukuso said if the child was granted entry to the United States a TV Samoa reporter would be escorting Baby Miracle to Miami, but only to act as an interpreter for the parents.
"They (the Australian church) emailed me, but because of confidential reasons I cannot release the medical reports on my own. I have to get the family's consent to do that," she said.
She said her TV station did not have all of Miracle's medical records.
"I don't have the actual scans from American Samoa. Only the doctors in (Samoa's capital) Apia have the actual scans. It is only the medical reports from the beginning that I have," she said.
Tooa Kristin Taylor from THORN Ministry said she did not think a desire for an exclusive story by media organisations was postponing treatment for Miracle.
"I am not sure if it is a twist on the exclusive. I kind of had that sense at one point, but being with the women involved I feel they genuinely care. They can't just give out medical records," she said.
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