Desperately ill toddler finally gets flight out of Japan

Katy Holland


A seriously ill Canadian toddler living in Japan has finally flown home, after a traumatic week waiting for a flight.

Little Maleek Cavanagh has a life-threatening condition which means he is dependent on an electric pump to breathe. Since power supplies were damaged by the quake and tsunami last week, his parents have been struggling to keep him stable, and have been trying to secure a flight with medical clearance to Toronto.

Maleek, 2½, was born with the rare condition subglottic stenosis. He has a tracheostomy and must have the tube in his neck suctioned out many times a day to keep his airways open.

But the suction machine must be plugged in to clean out the ventilation tube.

The boy's parents feared for his health amid rolling blackouts in Japan following last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami, and were desperate to return to Canada. They had been pushing the Canadian government since last Saturday to help them get out of the country quickly.

They first had to secure visas for Maleek's dad, who is Ugandan-born, as well as his brother, who is six months old. They were further frustrated after being told had to wait for medical clearance.

The family moved from Mito, about 100 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, to a hotel in the capital amid rolling blackouts.They left behind many of their belongings when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit northeast Japan on March 10.

The family set up a Facebook page where supporters can donate clothes, toys and household equipment to replace the things the family had to abandon when they left their home. .

The latest post reads: 'We are in Toronto!!! ... just thrilled beyond belief to finally be here! ... Mallek is doing fine and handled the flight well! We are so proud!