Laulima: Community rallies around infant with genetic disorder

Nawai Irie (Photo: Wendy Irie)

Our Laulima Giving Program doesn’t end with the holidays and neither does your generosity.

When we put the word out about little Nawai Irie, the community rallied to her family’s side.

Like any other infant, the 8-month-old often naps peacefully at home, but take a closer look at and around her and you’ll see she’s surrounded by machines, monitors and tubes that help her breathe.

At birth last September, Nawai seemed fine, but her mother, Wendy Irie, noticed some physical delays at one month old.

By three months old, doctors diagnosed Nawai with a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). They said she would never be able to sit up, crawl or walk.

“She’ll probably have respiratory distress and her life expectancy is probably going to be until two (years old),” Wendy said.

Nawai went into Kapiolani Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit in January.

A family friend contacted our Laulima Giving Program and Hawaii responded with monetary donations for medical bills, especially since Wendy had to put her job on hold.

Nawai’s doctors suggested solar panels, saying electric bills would skyrocket because of all the medical equipment Nawai would need when she got out of the hospital.

Walter’s Electric Inc. heard the need and responded, donating a photovoltaic system.

“It’s just something embedded in us to give back and to help families in need and being that we are blessed and able to, we decided to do it,” said co-owner Lucille Chung.

Wendy Irie and her family say they’re so very touched and thankful.

“(We feel) blessed that they would have chosen our family to donate, because this is a huge donation and it’s going to be a huge help to us financially,” she said. “It just shows us how great our community is and how supportive they are of us and it just makes us seem okay.”

So on this day, a little noise waking Nawai from her slumber isn’t noise at all. It’s the sound of a community relieving a burden so mom and dad can focus on their precious time with her.

You can continue to help families in need and our Family Fun Day and concert at Honolulu Zoo this Thursday, Kamehameha Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be lots of entertainment, giveaways and free activities for the kids. Proceeds will benefit the Laulima Giving Program.

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