TORONTO - As the infant at the centre of a heart transplant drama at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children fights for her life, her father made a plea Thursday for financial help in caring for baby Kaylee amid a battle to protect his reputation.

Jason Wallace, 34, first made headlines earlier this month when he and his wife Crystal Vitelli, 20, decided to donate Kaylee's heart to another sick infant, after being told their daughter would likely die soon.

Kaylee suffers from a Joubert Syndrome, a rare brain condition, and has unexpectedly survived after being taken off a respirator.

Although such transplants are routinely conducted without media fanfare, Wallace has said they went to the media in an attempt to change the minds of the hospital after they were told Kaylee might not meet national standards for a heart transplant.

After holding press conferences outside the hospital for several days Wallace announced he would step out of the spotlight, citing intense public scrutiny and a desire to focus his energy on his ailing daughter.

But he returned to the glare of the cameras this week, holding a press conference Thursday to announce several fundraisers to raise money for Kaylee and a trust fund set up by Vitelli's best friend.

Wallace appeared in court the previous day on charges of assault and robbery stemming from an alleged incident at a Toronto bar in October 2006. He also revealed Wednesday he used to deal drugs.

But Thursday he said the appeal for the public's help is about treatment for Kaylee and her future.

"I'm destroyed," Wallace said. "I know my future is definitely bleak. We all did what we did when we were younger and mine has caught up with me. Here I am, but don't blame my family for it.

"For God's sake don't blame my family for it," he said as he began to weep.

Wallace and Vitelli live in her parents' house in Bradford, Ont., north of Toronto, and he has not been able to find work since Kaylee was born more than two months ago.

Wallace, flanked by Vitelli and a publicist representing them pro bono, spoke about the long and difficult road ahead and suggested the publicity is not making it any easier.

He had a job offer to start May 10 as an information technology recruiter, but that offer was rescinded at 9 a.m. Thursday "due to the media," Wallace said.

Kaylee continues to receive treatment at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, as does the other baby girl who is still waiting for a heart transplant.

Kaylee has had surgery that allowed her to be fed through her stomach instead of through her nose, Wallace said, adding his daughter is still constantly struggling to breathe.

Wallace said he hopes to eventually take his daughter home, but it will necessitate turning the family's home into the equivalent of an intensive care unit.

"Sick Kids indicates all the time that they don't expect her survival, but if she does it that's an amazing thing," Wallace said.

"We're fighting to get her home. Every day we're in there we're at her bedside saying, `When can we get the discharge home?"'

Money that gets raised will go toward Kaylee and her needs, Wallace said, and if Kaylee loses her fight and dies the money will be split between the Joubert Syndrome Foundation and the Trillium Gift of Life Network, Ontario's organ and tissue donation agency.

"I'm not going to have access to the money, nor do I want it," Wallace said, but added in the future some of it could go toward expenses such as groceries so he and Vitelli can be healthy to look after Kaylee.

JP Pampena, the family's new publicist, began Thursday's press conference by admonishing journalists for stories with negative elements and suggesting it could limit access to the family in the future.

"I'm definitely going to promise you this: Those who I see negative reports (from) are going to be the last to be notified of any other upcomings regarding this," Pampena said.

"I want you to report positive stuff for the family," he said later.

"Hey, you want a story then I'm going to set those rules and guidelines because you're destroying the family."

Funds raised will not be used for Wallace's legal fees, Pampena said, suggesting his client may need to seek legal aid.

The trust for Kaylee Vitelli is with TD Canada Trust. The transit number is 21102. The account number is 211063253.