Monday, April 10, 2017

(Repost from 2015) BP oil spill 5 years later: one brave young woman and baby battle for health

The following article originally ran on, March 23, 2015.
Daisy Seal, a bright and brave young wife and mother from Gulfport, Mississippi, is unusually kind and even-keeled when discussing a horrific blight that would anger many to outbursts.
For, as a resident of this beachside community, she never thought she'd be right in the heart of the nation's worst environmental disaster. She was just taking her usual walks back in late April of 2010 when news came that there had been a spill further up the gulf.
Anyone who walks these beaches knows that it's normal to have a little black stickiness on one's feet. Small tar balls are ubiquitous. But what she found suddenly terrified her.
"It was bad. That stuff was all over the sand. There was more oily stuff than there was sand," Seal told this reporter today, Mar. 23. At the time, her son was seven and life was good. Her fertility to date had been solid: no miscarriages or any health effects to speak of.
All of that was about to change.
After the spill, Seal suffered 13 miscarriages. When her daughter Bella was finally born almost 14 months ago - a blessing beyond compare - she was born with severe health problems.
"I don't want people to feel sorry for her," the mother says simply, and indeed Bella is a bright and beautiful little girl. But she is underweight, her kidneys "haven't worked since birth", Seal says. She has end-stage renal failure and rickets.
It's actually too much for a journalist to even listen to. How can a mother manage?
"She has problems with calcium being too high and it causes her bones to be brittle and for them to twist and not grow properly and her brain not to have a chance to grow like it is supposed to," says Seal. "And her parathyroid hormones might have to be removed because they can't get hormones down."
Asked if she was being compensated by BP for this, she said her claim had been denied, that she was not able to sufficiently show the link, cause and effect. This despite the images showing the rashes she had, the "burn holes" in her arms and legs.
Of her post-oil spill fertility battle, she says, "I stayed sick all the time and I'd get pregnant and then lose the baby and they never could come up with a definitive reason why I kept having miscarriages. Young Bella, who only weighs 11 pounds at 14 months, is on Medicare because she is classified as disabled.
But her parents have been denied Medicaid despite their extremely low income. Her husband was a seafood cook but not any longer.
The family does not want sympathy, but they deserve help and they deserve care for themselves and their children. Presently, the little girl has to travel to New Orleans for her care. Mississippi doesn't even offer what they need, Seal says. Further, the young boy has asthma and needs help, too. Asked if she'd ever had a miscarriage before conceiving her son, she says no. Her health was good.
All this suffering traced back to that Apr. 2010 disaster in the Gulf. Oh yes, Gulfport, Miss. is considered Zone A. It's more in the line of fire than New Orleans is.
Reflecting back to that day five years ago, she relays that she was "just down there because it was something I did and got it all over my feet."
Asked what "it" is she explains it could have been both oil and Corexit. It was "one or two or both - I had to use gasoline to get it off. It was big balls..." She says, "We all just went down there to check it out and see what was going on because they were talking about it on the news. There were people out there, boogie boarding and stuff, and I think it was probably a few days later they saw cops stopped letting people go down there and pretty much closed the beach off."
Asked how many days she was walking there before realizing the danger, she says about three days, about how long it took the police to shut the beach down. Because of her lack of insurance, she only has documentation for two of the miscarriages, which she went to the hospital for. What she does have, though, is proof of the spill's effects.
A doctor tested her blood a few years ago.
"My blood was full of those cancer causing chemicals, VOCs," she says. She went with her mom to have the test because she kept having health issues.
Later this week, with the seventh anniversary coming soon, GOME will post another blog updating readers on Bella's health.
If you'd like to contribute to Bella's health fund, visit:
PHOTOS: L: beautiful little Bella; R: Bella and her mommy, Daisy. Bella was underweight at birth and has suffered a number of health issues.

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