A little boy from a small Pacific island, struggling to hold onto life and in desperate need of heart surgery, came to Dallas and left with a new future – and a love of some new animals.
Two-year-old Marvin was in desperate need of a cardiac surgery procedure that he couldn’t receive in his small village of Tabwakea, on Christmas Island. On this remote island in the Republic of Kiribati, nearly eight percent of children die before age 5.
Thanks to the Dallas chapter of the nonprofit HeartGift Foundation, Marvin and his mom made the long journey to receive the promised gift of healing. He left his father, Nanai, and his 5-year-old sister, Daisy, behind to come to Dallas with his mother, Teaekaki (Tea) Tebeebe.
And after a skilled surgeon’s hands fixed the hole in the toddler’s heart, it was time for a special heart-filled adventure at the Dallas Zoo. After all of the health struggles, Marvin’s face lit up with excitement, courage and a love for animals.
He and his mother had never seen such a diverse collection of wildlife before, having lived all of their lives on the Pacific island with birds, crabs, dogs and cats. Marvin’s favorite animal was the giraffes in the Giants of the
Savanna. He and his mother had a wonderful time feeding them, and visiting the monkeys, spending time in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo and exploring all 106 acres of the Zoo.
Back on the Christmas Island, Marvin, now 3, has a new chance at life with a healthy heart, and he and his family are doing well.
We’re honored that HeartGift gave us the chance to be a part of his visit. To learn more about HeartGift, visit www.heartgift.org.
This is something that other zoos around the country should pick up on. Any plans of expanding the program?