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  • Writer's pictureLinda Woodard

Saving Gabriel

Updated: May 11, 2023

Update: On the 26th of July 2022 Gabriel will be on his way to Boston, to have the surgery he needs for his best chance to a long and healthy life.

An amazing effort has been put in to get him there and I want to thank all my wonderful family, friends, clients and those who overlap, who have made donations, shared this story and took part in my fundraiser. I feel so emotional knowing his operation is just around the corner, and can only imagine how his family must feel - Good luck Gabriel, I can't wait to see you when you get back x

How it began: In May 2021 Gabriel's family were over the moon as they had just welcomed their third child into the world. Then, shortly after the birth their world was turned upside down as the nurses realised that Gabriel was short of breath. He was brought to the intensive care unit and then rushed to Evelina Hospital.

Only hours later they were given the devastating news that Gabriel had a tumour in his heart (Left Ventricle Fibroma - only a handful of people have been diagnosed with this condition in the UK). There had been no signs of this during pregnancy and therefore no time to prepare. All their plans for their future along with their dreams and hopes for their little boy were overshadowed by the doctors telling them he could have years, months or weeks...

Image: Rafael Silva

When you look at this gorgeous boy you wouldn't have a clue what is going on inside him. He is a cheeky, bubbly, smiley boy. However, he has had numerous check ups and is on medication. His little heart was working so hard trying to breast feed that they decided to put him on a feeding tube instead, to avoid stress on his heart. His tumour is pressing on his airways which makes it difficult for him to lie on his back and he struggles to sleep for more than half an hour at a time. Gabriel's condition means he is more prone to respiratory infections, but worse than that, his heart could stop at any moment.

When Gabriel's consultant asked if his parents, Lina and Rafael, agreed for him to send Gabriel's MRI images to Boston Children's Hospital it gave them some hope. Lina immediately began researching the condition and found that there is a solution in surgery which, although not available through the NHS, is available in Boston. They knew it would come with high financial costs but when they were told they needed £140,000 they were stunned. Lina, a waitress, and Rafael, who works in security, decided that the only way was to reach out and ask for help to hopefully give their boy a chance at a long and full life.

The main purpose of this blog is to share that Gabriel's parents have set up a Go Fund Me page £140,000 is a huge amount of money for a family to find, but together we can help reach this goal. Whatever you can do - make a donation, share their story or even put it in front of someone with contacts in TV, the press or radio - it will all help. I first heard of this boy through Spotted:Crawley. As so often Dan, who runs the page, had heard about Gabriel and wanted to help by organising a quiz night with raffle prizes. I sent him one of my Gift Certificates for the raffle but wanted to give a gift to Lina and Rafael too, so I gifted them a studio photography session to celebrate Gabriel turning one.

Boy sitting next to 'ONE' sign

After all, this is exactly why I started my photography business, capturing memories and putting smiles on people's faces. Because who cannot help but smile when they see this gorgeous boy. He has come such a long way to reach this milestone and I am hoping with all my heart that I will be able to capture his second birthday too.

Family sitting on a throw
A young boy looks to the camera with his father smiling behind.

I am so grateful that I got to spend time with this lovely family. I just about kept it together during the session, but afterwards I had to just sit and gather my thoughts for a while.

As a mother myself, my heart breaks when I think of what his parents are going through. As soon as you know you're having a baby you start to plan, dream about the future and imagine what they may look like. But above all, you hope that your little baby will be healthy.

I gave both my boys extra hugs when I collected them from school that afternoon and hope that one day Rafael and Lina will be able to do the same to Gabriel.

Boy sitting in a wooden bowl holding a toy

Video: Rafael Silva UPDATE 29th June 2022 Yesterday morning we found that the money required for his surgery had been raised! This is such amazing news and Gabriel's family and friends are all over the moon. You can still make a donation to their 'Go Fund Me' page though, as they will need a further £25,000 for flights, accommodation, after care and so on. Thank you so much to all who have made this possible! x

All images on this page are subject to copyright. Downloading or any other use is against copyright law.

(c) Woodard Photography 2022

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