How Can We Help Jake? Local Athlete’s Cry for Help


As Malta wakes up with the new reality of additional restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, following record numbers, one of the measures which was announced yesterday, was the closure of pools, and while some see pools as leisure, for some it is considered to be a therapy.

Local Athlete, Fabio Spiteri has just posted an appeal, for anyone out there, who can help triathlete Jake Vella, who suffers from a very rare disease, ROHHAD. Rapid-onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD) is a rare disorder of respiratory control and autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation, with endocrine system abnormalities. Respiratory control is the automatic function of breathing in response to varied activities of daily living (ex. exercise, sleep, eating), so within the context of the ANS. The ANS is the portion of the nervous system that controls or regulates many involuntary body functions including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, bowel and bladder control, breathing, and more. The endocrine system is regulated by the hypothalamus, and through hormones it controls growth, energy and water balance, sexual maturation and fertility as well as response to stress.



“Now that the pools are closed Jake’s physical activity has stopped,” Fabio wrote, adding that Jake, a former triathlete, already “had to stop running and cycling due to his condition with the only sports left was swimming.”

Fabio explained that Jake needs to swim and move to improve his mobility, and said that while we hardly know anything about ROHHAD, “I am 100% sure sports keeps Jake alive. I am posting this maybe there is a kind person out there with a heated pool, where Jake can swim at least 3 times a week up to April 11th.”

Share this with anyone who might be able to help Jake out!

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