Web Exclusive: Inclement weather hampers ill girl’s flight to get treatment
12/12/2007, 8:38 am
By Janet Cremer
For many, the sleet and rain that has hit the area is no more than a commuter’s annoyance, but for Balei Chinski it may be a matter of life and death.
The Bourbonnais teen has a rare immune deficiency disease, which leaves her unable to fight off infections. She was scheduled to take off this morning from the Greater Kankakee Airport to fly to Duke University in North Carolina to see a specialist. However, the weather is again hampering things.
“It took us two years to get this appointment,” Balei’s mother, Cheryl Chinski, said of the visit with a doctor she called, the “premier immune deficiency doctor in the world.”
The appointment at Duke is set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday. If Balei can’t make the appointment, she’ll need to wait until Jan. 3, according to Dr. Rebecca Buckley’s office.
The family is hopeful doctors at Duke will stabilize Balei’s precarious condition. “An infection or aneurysm will cause my child to die or not to be able to function as she is,” Chinski said.
Balei who has Undefined Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), was to take an Angel Flight, a nonprofit network of private pilots who provide free air transportation for families who need specialized medical treatment.
The only drawback to the generous service is that the private planes are usually smaller and can’t fly at higher altitudes, so flights are more likely to be canceled in bad weather.
Traveling by car isn’t possible, Chinski said, because sitting for long periods is physically difficult for Balei, who also suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and blood clots.
Angel Flights tried to arrange free transportation aboard a commercial airliner have been put off for fear they, too, could be canceled due to the weather.
Chinski whose story has been followed in The Daily Journal just doesn’t have time to waste. Amazingly, Balei has managed to make the honor roll at Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center, where she’s a seventh-grader. She’s tutored five hours a day.
“My baby missed half of first grade, half of third grade and most of this year because of strokes,” Chinski said. “These are strokes that paralyze and physically impair her.”
“She wants to be pediatrician,” Chinski said. “She tells me, ‘I know how sick kids feel, and I know what it’s like to be scared.’ ”
Complications from Balei’s disease puts her in the hospital several times a year. In fact, a serious infection hospitalized her twice in the last week. She also suffers from strokes.
“There’s an urgency starting to come on,” she said of her daughter’s condition. “The time when she’s healthy is starting to narrow. And the length of time that she’s sick is getting longer.”
Insurance will not cover Balei Chinski’s medical procedures at Duke University. A benefit is being planned for 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., March 1 at the Kankakee VFW.
Contributions to the “Balei Chinski Benefit Fund” may be sent to: People’s Bank, 315 Main St. NW, Bourbonnais, IL 60914.