Emotional appeal as PMB toddler barely clings to life

2014-09-23 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG toddler’s life is on the line if he doesn’t go for a crucial but costly stem cell transplant.

Wayne Rowe was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a dangerous rare type of cancer that occurs in infants and young children, last year. Since then, he has been spending most of his time in and out of hospitals.

This year in July, Wayne had an operation where his tumours were surgically removed in Durban’s Parklands Hospital. He is currently undergoing a five-day aggressive chemotherapy treatment that uses chemical substances as part of a standardised chemotherapy regimen.

Now, he is set for a stem cell transplant operation between September and October in Johannesburg.

His mother, Chantel Rowe, said the situation is traumatic.

“The doctor said if he doesn’t go for the operation, there’s only a 30% chance he could survive. We are appealing for urgent assistance,” said an emotional Rowe. “His immune system is very low. He gets nauseous and he is not eating properly and picks up infections easily. Seeing him going through the pain is heartbreaking.”

He has had his port removed and has a visible scar on his chest. Rowe, originally from Ixopo, said since June she has only been at work for about two weeks.

“Most of the time I have to skip work because I have to be with him in hospital. We are in a difficult and stressful situation. The doctor gave me sleeping pills because he said I’m under a lot of pressure.”

Paediatric oncologist, Dr Monica Vaithilingum said Wayne will use his own stem cell and the transplant was the only hope. “He is in the last stage he could get to. The aim is to get him a stem cell transplant which is a serious procedure,” said Vaithilingum.

“We make his bone marrow produce extra stem cells, take them out of his blood then store them separately. Then we give him chemotherapy before wiping his bone marrow out and putting his stem cells back into him.”

When The Witness visited the family in Imbali yesterday, Wayne was playing with his toys, smiling, leaning against his mother and laughing. “He is a strong survivor. He doesn’t have friends because he’s always in hospital. He plays by himself and he enjoys playing with toys as they make him happy,” said Rowe.

• khanysiani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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