Aloha Jam Benefit For Kehau Sullivan

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - February 24, 2010
Kehau Sullivan was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare congenital heart defect

Friends of Kehau Sullivan have enlisted some of Hawaii’s best musicians for an Aloha Jam Benefit on Friday, March 5, from 4 to 10 p.m. at Hard Rock Cafe to raise money to help pay for Kehau’s mounting medical bills.

Taking the stage are Tavana, Keith Batlin, Dion “Boogie” Scott, Jake Shimabukuro, Brother Noland, Starr Kalahiki, anjj lee, Mike Love, Johnny Helm, Guy Cruz, John Cruz, Micah Wolf, Pat “The Hat” and other special guests.

Kehau, daughter of professional surfer Pancho Sullivan, was born Sept. 1, 2009, with a rare congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot. A few hours after birth she was turning a little bluish, and the cardiac team from Kapiolani Medical Center was called to Castle Medical Center to take a look at her. A loud murmur was detected and she was immediately transported to Kapiolani.

Tetralogy of Fallot is a problem with the heart’s structure that changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. It’s a complex heart defect that occurs in about five out of every 10,000 babies.


At 2 days old, Kehau was admitted to open-heart surgery. A shunt was put in her heart to allow for proper blood flow so it could be oxygenated. This procedure was only a temporary fix that would allow her to grow bigger and get stronger for her next surgery, which was performed earlier this month at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

“We were told that Kehau required a conduit from a cow’s jugular vein, and also they would close the hole that was between her right and left ventricles,” says her mother Haunani. “This procedure would only last her about 18 months, then she would require another surgery. It was a possibility that they would be able to place a patch over her pulmonary artery. This other option would allow for a longer period of time before she would require another procedure. Luckily, it was decided by the surgeon that she was a good candidate to have the patch done and not the conduit. She will now, hopefully, be fine for the next 10 years. She will need to see her cardiologist regularly, and will be on medication for a little while. She is now in intensive care and doing very well.”

Elated with the outcome of the surgery, Haunani and Pancho and older siblings Kirra, 5, and brother Kanekoa, 3, understand that the fight is far from over. The North Shore family continues its temporary stay in San Diego with Kehau as she continues on her road to recovery.

“We were completely unaware of Kehau’s condition until she was born,” says Haunani. “When something like this happens to you, all you think of is whatever it takes to keep your child alive is what you will do. The cost of her care was not something that we even considered. It is unfortunate that medical costs are so much. We were told that, now that we have a child with a pre-existing condition and a chronic illness, no other insurance company would take her. We have been so fortunate to have family and friends come forward with a helping hand and offer to organize events to help Kehau.”

All supporters who attend the benefit concert will be eligible for an ukulele giveaway from Music is Good Medicine. Show your support with a suggested donation of $15 collected at the door. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised will go directly to Kehau’s medical fund with a donation made on behalf of the Sullivan family to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We are so very grateful,” says Haunani. “It is a very humbling experience to have so much love and support from everyone. Our family would like to thank everyone who has helped our little Kehau. She is doing great. Thanks to all of the support we are getting, we will have a lot of relief with her medical costs.”

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