“And I cannot imagine losing him, it’s very difficult,” added John’s father Wisam Toma.
The Worries Began when Their Second Baby was Born
In 2013, Wisam Toma and his wife, both Christians, left Iraq to attend Virginia Commonwealth University where he would earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology. During that time, the couple had two children, Miriam and John. The family celebrated at Wisam’s graduation in 2018. Behind their smiles, however, they worried. Worried about their little boy, John.
“He was fine, he was happy, nothing was wrong with him when he was born,” Maysam said.
Then, at only six months, John contracted a viral infection. It took about two months for it to go away and left him not wanting to eat. Doctors eventually discovered painful ulcers in his stomach and fluid going to John’s lungs. As he began to lose weight, doctors inserted a feeding tube.
“He was not comfortable at all,” Maysam said. “He was sad, congested all the time from that tube. He’d sneeze, the tube would come out we’d have to put it back. It was a very painful process. Sometimes blood would come out of his nose, he’d choke.”
Baby John gets a Rare Diagnosis
Finally, in July the family got a diagnosis from doctors here at the Children‘s Hospital of Richmond at VCU that answered some questions but perhaps created even more. John was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Nicolaides Barraitser syndrome.
Treatment that John certainly would not get back in Iraq, although that doesn’t concern government officials there. They want Wisam back because he signed a government contract to receive the scholarship.
Wisam has offered to pay back the loan in installments but Iraq says no. He’s reached out to both the US Embassy in Baghdad and the Iraqi Embassy in Washington. Neither can help because of the binding document.
“They say ‘I know you are trying your best to help, but you have to come back,'” Wisam said.
Praying for a Miracle
Toma said he’s looking for a miracle.
“We have faith in God, we believe in God and we believe in miracles,” Wisam said.