Four Children Appointed as Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Ambassadors

Left: Malory Saki, Rei Saki, Chris Saki, Gabe Saki; Center; Jameson Swankie, Valerie Swankie, Mike Swankie, Dakota Phillips; Right: Valerie Williams, Iyanna Williams; Far Right: Nicole Lucas, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

Four brave young children were appointed as ambassadors for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital during a heartwarming ceremony at Clovers Stadium in Pomona, just before a New York Boulders baseball game. As ambassadors the children, all of whom received successful treatment for serious illnesses at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, will represent the thousands of children cared for annually by the hospital.

During the ceremony, 8-year-old Gabe and his 4-year-old sister Rei, along with 4-year-old Jameson and 12-year-old Iyanna, were presented with official sashes and medals by Nicole Lucas, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

This year’s ambassadors are:

Gabe and Rei Saki — Congenital Heart issues

Gabe was born with a congenital heart defect – a hole between the two top chambers of his heart called an atrial septal defect. Pediatric cardiology specialists at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital performed a minimally invasive heart technique five days before his third birthday and was released from the hospital after 36 hours. Today, Gabe is thriving. He loves karate lessons, playing Minecraft and Roblox and spending time with friends.

Rei was born with the same congenital heart defect as her brother but because of its smaller size, doctors are closely monitoring it to see if it will close on its own without surgery. So far Rei remains a happy healthy child who can often be found painting, coloring, and dancing.

Iyanna Williams — Kidney Transplant

When Iyanna was 10-year-old she contracted COVID-19 and at that time it was discovered that her kidneys were failing and she needed a transplant. In September of 2023, after a year on the transplant list, a kidney became available and Iyanna underwent a transplant at Westchester Medical Center. After the four-hour surgery, Iyanna recuperated at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and was released within a week. Her family is thankful for her recovery and report that she is a sassy 12-year-old who is excited to be back at school with her friends

Jameson Swankie

When Jameson was born in April of 2020, his parents received the devastating news that he had a large hole in his heart. He was immediately transferred to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, where he spent six days in the Neonatal ICU. He underwent heart surgery in July of 2020 for multiple congenital abnormalities and underwent a second surgery in September of 2020 for an obstruction of his left kidney. His parents describe the doctors and nurses at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital as ‘angels on earth.’ Today, Jameson is an energetic 4-year-old who loves dinosaurs, Hot Wheels cars, and watching Bluey and Paw Patrol.