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Effort begins to search for ‘miracle’ treatment’ for daughter of Mark and Emma Hylland, regardless of hurdles and an entire Pacific Ocean between them.
By Randy Economy
The birth of a new born child is always considered to be the most monumental occasions in the life of any mother and father.
Norwalk community leader Mark Hylland and his partner Emma Naquinez were ecstatic with the birth of their daughter last week.
Father Mark Hylland was unable to be present for the birth of his daughter since he is in the middle of his finals exams at California State University Dominguez Hills, where he is pursuing Bachelors in Labor Studies. In just a few weeks he will graduate with honors and will enter CSUDH’s online Negotiations, Conflict Resolution, and Peace Building Master’s Program.
Meanwhile, he is an ocean apart from Emma and this past week’s birth was already full of raw mixed emotions.
After baby Nicole Angela was born, doctors at the hospital experienced difficulty opening her right eye. When they did, they were shocked with what they did not see. Nicole did not have a right eye ball.
Nicole’s medical condition is known as Anophthalmos and is extremely rare, its cause unknown. Mark and Emma have been on a wrenching and emotional rollercoaster ever since.
Hylland oversees the Bohol/Philippines Coffee Project which he started with the support of “Gus” Velasco, the Santa Fe Springs icon who passed last year. This sustainability project is aimed at fighting poverty and protecting the environment through coffee.
“I discovered much more than coffee in the Philippines. It was there that I met Emma. She was my guide as I searched for coffee. I have learned so much from her, she is an amazing woman and a wonderful mother.”
Emma’s home is in Mindanao, the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. Due to widespread poverty and religious differences, fighting between the MILF and Philippine forces has displaced more than 100,000 people. Davao is the largest city in Mindanao and the Davao Doctors hospital is the most prestigious hospital in Mindanao.
Hylland utilized his extensive network and contacted his friend at the Davao Doctors Hospital to seek medical assistance for Nicole. However, they are ill-equipped to provide the medical attention that Nicole requires. “I have been a wreck, and have gotten very little sleep during these past several days,” Hylland said.
The Bohol Philippines Coffee Project has afforded Hylland with the opportunity to interface with some of the most important leaders in the sprawling island nation. “I had the pleasure of meeting United States Ambassador Harry Thomas at a baseball game and the honor of sharing coffee with Neric Acosta, Special Advisor to President Aquino. I have contacted their offices to request assistance for Nicole.”
Hylland’s non-stop efforts have led him to Dr. Jeremiah Tao, Director of Oculofacial Plastic & Orbital Surgery at the University of California Irvine.
“Dr. Tao told me that he would be delighted to evaluate Nicole. He also informed me that that Congenital Anophthalmos and the associated orbit facial rehabilitation is an interest of his.” Hylland is hopeful that Nicole can be a successful case study for Dr. Tao.
Hylland’s next challenge is to secure emergency medical visas for Emma and Nicole.
Hylland is a life-long resident of Norwalk and his best friend is James Velasco, Santa Fe Springs Planning Commissioner. Hylland and Velasco played sports together and were coached by veteran Norwalk City Councilman Mike Mendez. They also served in the United States Air Force together.
Hylland started the Cresson Neighborhood Watch Program; their last meeting was attended by nearly two-hundred neighbors. Hylland has also been a volunteer coach and umpire. This past summer he became involved with LULAC and arranged for them to receive coffee donations.
“This is going to be a long, emotional journey,” Hylland said. “I never knew parenthood could be so powerful in so many ways. ”
(Note: Mr. Economy, the Author of this article. is also the God Father of Baby Nicole Angela, and he is totally “blind” in his right eye).
We want to hear from you, our readers. Feel free to leave a comment below this post. The author of the article, Randy Economy can be reached via email at [email protected] or at Los Cerritos Community Newspaper during regular business hours at (562) 407-3873.
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