Baby Mienke flying to India for treatment: ‘We’re going with positive hearts’

2019-06-14 12:51
Baby Mienke. (Photo: Facebook/@Verna Rheeders Mulder)

Baby Mienke. (Photo: Facebook/@Verna Rheeders Mulder)

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After praying for a miracle for almost two years, Baby Mienke’s parents are hoping a trip to seek medical treatment in India will bear fruit.

Their two-year-old choked on formula milk, turning blue in the face, at a daycare centre in August 2017 when she was seven months old.

Then last year she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Mienke has been drinking and fed through her stomach since the incident. She doesn’t talk and can’t crawl or stand.

Her mother, Verna Rheeders Mulder, and father, Ryno, are taking her to India next Saturday for nine days to start stem cell therapy.

The couple have been speaking to the doctors over email and telephonically since last year November.

“They’ve been very helpful,” says Verna. “We’re very nervous, obviously.”

But they’re happy to have this opportunity. “I told my husband that I can’t wait to come back and start seeing results.”

Mienke was initially scheduled to go for treatment in India in December but they didn’t have passports so the trip was postponed to February.

When February came, they couldn’t go because Mienke was sick and had to be hospitalised.

They were supposed to leave for India in April, but they had another setback when the time came to go: Mienke had seizures.

Finally, she’s been given the green light to travel overseas.

While the Indian doctors don’t guarantee anything, they’re hoping for the best.  

“We’re going with positive hearts, we’re praying, and we just believe that it’s going to be a great success,” says Verna.

The couple have been doing their own research and speaking to a few parents whose children have undergone the same therapy.

In India Mienke will undergo various tests, including a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, blood tests and electrocardiography.

Her local neurologist recommended that the family seek medical help in India as she believes MRIs there are excellent and give great detail. From the tests, doctors can then work out a programme specifically for Mienke and her unique needs.

“In South Africa, an MRI scan is around R120 000. So, it’s going to cost us a lot of money,” says Verna.

“We’ve had fundraisers, she has a trust account and we’re selling perfume to raise money.”

They’ve raised enough funds to pay for the treatment, accommodation and flight tickets. But the family will still need to raise more cash for follow-up treatment in six months’ time.

“We know God will provide,” says Verna.

Mienke was a “normal, happy baby” before the terrible ordeal, she says.

“She could sit, drink [from] her bottle, throw it on the floor, play and laugh, and I have a lot of videos where she’s playing with her sisters.

“I won’t give up because I know she can do [those things] again.”

She says the many videos of her happy baby give her strength. She’s also grateful for the support of her family, friends and colleagues.

While the past couple of years have been difficult the family celebrate Mienke’s small improvements. For example, she started making a “bit of sound”, says Verna.

“She’s aware of who we are and [how we] sound around her. We still don’t know what she can see because she was diagnosed with cortical visual blindness.”

The baby’s two sisters, Leané (5) and Zamone (3), simply adore her and are very proud of her.

“If we’re busy, Leané will be talking to Mienke and they pray for her each and every day.”

And that’s why the family choose to focus on the improvements Mienke’s making.

“She’s started laughing, and that’s big for us.”

Read more on:    india  |  stem cell research  |  health
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