PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – What was supposed to be a dream birthday vacation in paradise turned into life and death struggle for a Pittsburgh boy.
Five-year-old Nakai Phillips, who has cerebral palsy and a shunt in his head, suffered a brain hemorrhage while visiting Puerto Rico with his mother.
Shaquayla Phillips entered a contest and won the trip.
She decided to take her son to celebrate the birthday they share, June 29.
But, when they landed in San Juan, Nakai became critically ill.
Doctors say he suffered a brain bleed.
They performed emergency surgery, and now the pair must stay in Puerto Rico for at least a month while the child recovers.
“Until he’s able to walk and do the things he used to do before,” explained Nakai’s aunt, Aijalon Jenkins. “I just want my nephew home. It just hurts.”
Aijalon and other relatives in Pittsburgh reached out to Jamie’s Dream Team, a non-profit organization that eases burdens and provides hope through charitable donations.
“They’re stuck,” founder Jamie Holmes told KDKA’s Kym Gable. “They need help. Food, transportation, lodging, anything we can get. We really just need to help them. Make them feel at home there. It’s bad enough their son is in the situation he is in now.”
Aijalon says her sister lost a child back in 2003, a baby girl who died just a few months after birth.
She says Nakai’s medical emergency while in Puerto Rico was likely the result of an earlier fall that her sister was not aware of.
“I hope he recovers,” she said. “We’re rooting for you, Nakia. We love you.”
If you’d like to find out more about Jamie’s Dream Team or to help, click here.