Kandice’s story ends tragically

  • Close family: Kandice Young with her mother, Derika, and siblings De-Ziah and A-Zai (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Close family: Kandice Young with her mother, Derika, and siblings De-Ziah and A-Zai (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Kandice dressed up as a princess

    Kandice dressed up as a princess

  • Kandice, aged 2, with her mother

    Kandice, aged 2, with her mother


Kandice Young passed away on Saturday evening at the age of 14, having battled serious medical conditions all her life.

Her mother, Derika, paid tribute to a “wonderful loving child” who made friends wherever she went.

“Everybody took to Kandice; her personality took her a long way,” Ms Young said yesterday.

Kandice, from Middletown in Pembroke, suffered from a serious heart condition, which meant she was in and out of hospital on a regular basis.

Her family launched a GoFundMe page last week to help them raise funds to send her to the Children’s Hospital in Boston for tests and possible surgery.

They reached the target of $10,000, which Ms Young says she still needs for outstanding medical costs as well as the cost of her daughter’s funeral.

The family, who turned down a risky surgery for Kandice four years ago, were featured in The Royal Gazette to raise funds to send her overseas for treatment as soon as possible.

However, on Saturday her mother noticed that Kandice was not herself. She was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but, despite life-saving efforts, she passed away at about 5pm.

Ms Young said she had always tried to prepare herself for the worst owing to the severity of her daughter’s condition.

“It was always to be expected — we knew what she was up against. I did turn down the surgery that she was offered because of the risk it involved — she could have died a lot sooner.

“I was trying to give her the best quality of life that I could; let her lead a normal teenage life.

“I wasn’t prepared for it to happen as soon as it did, but I did see how she was deteriorating. Some days she seemed like she was herself, but she would come and say this hurts or that hurts.

“She has been battling this from birth, so I guess that her body and her heart have just had enough.”

Kandice had a rare condition called congenital heterotaxy syndrome.

She had her first operation when she was only hours old as medical staff noticed her fingers were turning blue.

She had a surgical band placed around her heart because of its enlargement.

They were going to remove the band up to nine months later, but when she returned pulmonary vein stenosis was diagnosed. Veins to her heart were narrowed and made it difficult to get enough blood to her heart.

Kandice was also born without a spleen, which made her prone to illness, and only one working lung.

Just before her 3rd birthday, she contracted pneumonia, which left her fighting for her life.

Her mother said that despite her daughter’s lifelong challenges, Kandice was a happy child who people were drawn to.

“She had a very lovely personality, she never had any enemies and she always made friends — she never bothered anyone,” Ms Young said.

“I had people adding me on Facebook who I didn’t even know who had met my daughter — they know her as the loom band girl because she used to sell them.

“She loved her siblings dearly. She is a very wonderful loving child and everybody took to her.”

The community has rallied around Kandice for years. Her family have struggled with spiralling medical costs compounded by Derika having to stay at home to care for her child.

When Kandice was 2 she was chosen as “President’s Pick” for charity donations in the half-marathon.

The Fight For Life Foundation gave $10,000 to help cover medical costs and in 2008, golf pro Brian Morris raised a further $10,000 through the foundation by playing golf for 24 hours in her aid.

Kandice leaves behind her mother, her eight siblings, father figure Kyle Santucci and her best friend, Calshonte Wilson.

Heterotaxy syndrome

Kandice Young suffered a life-threatening heart problem from birth.

She had heterotaxy syndrome, a rare condition that means a disordered organ arrangement in the chest or abdomen.

Kandice also had pulmonary vein stenosis, a condition in which there is a blockage in the blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the heart.

She suffered further complications two weeks ago, when fluid around her liver put extra pressure on her heart. Her family had been planning for life-saving surgery at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.

However, she died at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on Saturday after, according to her mother, her heart and body finally gave up.

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Published Oct 22, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 22, 2018 at 9:03 am)

Kandice’s story ends tragically

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