Pippie’s lazarus pill miracle

2012-12-16 10:00

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Christmas is coming early for Isabella ‘Pippie’ Kruger and her family and one of the festive season’s biggest miracles is a little pill that’s changing her life. Eugene Botha reports.

Pippie (3) will be back in hospital on Tuesday for her first operation since a successful skin graft in July gave the little burn victim a new lease on life.

Pippie and her parents, Anice and Erwin, will thus celebrate Christmas Eve tomorrow.

If all goes according to plan, the whole family will then spend a quiet Christmas at home together next week.

“We know what Pippie will do. She will build Lego. She is absolutely crazy about it and we are buying up people’s old Lego blocks whenever we can,” says Anice.

Pippie’s interest in the building blocks is also a sign of her continued improvement.

“Pips will astound the world. She will show them one day that the brain damage she has sustained is not nearly as severe as the prophets of doom made out,” says her proud mother.

Helping her in that battle is Stilnox, which has been nicknamed the Lazarus Pill.

Pippie’s story horrified the nation. On New Year’s Eve last year, she was at a family braai when a container of firelighting fluid exploded and spewed flaming liquid all over her.

She sustained third-degree burns over 80% of her small body. She was rushed to hospital, but doctors gave her little chance of survival – 10% at most.

With severe burns come a host of life-threatening side effects, and Pippie experienced most of them.

Her heart stopped four times and she had to be resuscitated. Her kidneys stopped functioning for a while, she was dehydrated and she was struck with multiple infections.

But, against all odds, she survived.

A ground-breaking skin graft procedure, with little Pippie as its first patient in South Africa, shot the toddler’s astonishing story into international headlines.

That procedure, and its success, set her on the road to recovery, but it’ll be a long walk.

Behind the scenes though, Pippie and her parents have added another miracle to what’s already a long list.

Stilnox is changing Pippie’s life one dose at a time.

Amid the dehydration, the cardiac arrests and the infections in the early days of her ordeal, Pippie also suffered a stroke.

This left her right side weakened and her speech impaired.

Neurologists who examined Pippie said that the damage to her brain was significant, and that Pippie would probably not walk and talk again.

This Anice refuses to accept.

“We have seen so many miracles this year. I have no reason to believe that Pippie won’t speak again one day. I believe she will show everyone that the brain damage is not as severe as they say,” Anice says.

In September this year, Anice heard about Stilnox and its effects on all kinds of brain injuries.

The remarkable effect of the pill was discovered by chance by a mother who had been watching over her comatose son for three long years.

Louis Viljoen was knocked down by a car and went into a deep coma that he wasn’t expected to ever emerge from.

Doctors believed he had irreversible brain damage.

One night, he seemed restless and his mother, Sienie, asked their GP, Dr Wally Nel, if she could give him half a tablet of the sleeping pill Stilnox.

Instead of tranquilising Louis, the pill had the opposite effect.

After about 15 minutes, Louis opened his eyes and said: “Hallo Mammie.”

It was unprecedented and was medically not supposed to happen.

As soon as the pill wore off, Louis went back into the coma and, time and again, the pill brought him out of his coma.

Nel broke the story to the medical fraternity and, for the past 10 years, the amazing effects of Stilnox have been studied all over the world.

The startling effect of the pill has brought new hope to people with brain damage all over the world and there are literally dozens of reports of people emerging from deep comas.

In July, City Press again ran a story on Louis and soon more “miracles” were reported.

Having read the City Press article, Nomfundo Nqinana insisted that her husband Ayanda’s sceptical doctors give him a tablet a day. Five days later, Ayanda emerged from

his seven-year coma, asking for his son.

Nel has since teamed up with a professor in nuclear medicine, Dr Ralf Clauss, to study the effects of the pill and found that it has far-reaching applications.

“The pill not only works for coma patients; it has a beneficial effect in many other instances,” says Nel.

When Anice Kruger heard about the remarkable effects of the pill, it immediately piqued her interest. She did some research of her own.

Nel and Clauss – who is now living in the UK – have determined that when a brain injury happens, not all brain cells in the affected area die.

Some become dormant – and so they seem dead, when in fact they are not.

Clauss and Nel even coined a new word to describe this phenomenon – neurodormancy.

Stilnox’s unique power lies in how it seems to wake up these dormant brain cells.

When more brain cells become active, the consequences are unprecedented.

People wake up after years in comas, regain movement and feeling in previously paralysed limbs, improve after strokes and even cerebral palsy patients who suffered brain injuries as infants show improvement.

Not one to shy away from exploring new possibilities, Anice took Pippie to see Nel a few weeks ago. They decided to give Pippie a quarter of a tablet.

When they arrived, Pippie was slow and lethargic, says Anice.

They then gave her the quarter tablet and, after about 20 minutes, a noticeable change came over Pippie.

“I have seen a lot of miracles in these rooms,” says Nel. “But I have never seen anything like this before. She started to blink rapidly. It was not something she had done before.”

“Pippie also started looking around and paying attention to what was going on around her.”

Anice says that when this started to happen she was initially too stunned to think.

But it was clear Pippie immediately seemed to be more awake and aware of what was going on around her.

“The change is remarkable,” says her mother.

Pippie’s tongue was also badly burned in the fire and, as a consequence, she had lost some sensation. The Stilnox pill also seemed to counteract this.

“She started to drool and it seemed that she became more aware of her tongue,” says Nel.

Anice says Pippie’s tasting ability has also improved since that first dose of Stilnox.

A day later, Anice mailed Nel a photo of Pippie sitting upright on her own.

That was something she could not do before taking the pill.

Anice is convinced the pill has made a huge difference and says she sees small improvements in Pippie virtually every day.

Since Pippie started taking the Stilnox, Nel and Dr Ridwan

Mia – who did the skin grafts and who is still managing Pippie’s continuing treatment – have been in contact and are together mapping the road ahead, which includes the continued use of Stilnox.

Anice is confident the series of miracles she has witnessed this year are far from over.

This week, Pippie stood for the first time, supported by her delighted mother.

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