Two years have passed since Mienke Mulder choked on her milk while with her day mother in Mbombela – but things still aren’t looking up for the little girl and her family.
Mienke, now nearly three years old, was admitted to hospital again on Tuesday, with pneumonia.
The dark-haired toddler can’t talk, swallow or walk. Her dad, Ryno, says the family are at their wits’ end.
“She was admitted to hospital with pneumonia three weeks ago. Yesterday (Tuesday) we took her for a check-up with the neurologist and she ended up being admitted for pneumonia again,” Ryno tells us.
“Her saliva runs into her lungs; so she’s constantly getting pneumonia or bronchitis. Vera (Mienke’s mother) and I were there in one car and we had to run around, getting her clothes and milk ready. In between I’m trying to work – the night before last I got home only by 10pm,” he adds.
Mienke was eight months old when she choked on her milk while in the care of her day mother Doctors pronounced the baby dead but Vera pleaded with them not to give up on her child and 15 minutes later they managed to get her heart going again. But Mienke was left severely disabled and can’t do anything on her own.
Some months ago she underwent stem cell treatment in India. Her parents are hoping to be able to take her to India for a repeat treatment early next year.
“We’ve noticed small improvements since the previous treatment,” Ryno says. “Mienke would be crying but as soon as you play her favourite songs she’d immediately stops crying. Like immediately. She’s much more aware of sound and more responsive. She also pulls away her foot when you tickle it. She’s never done that before.”
The Mulders want to take Mienke back to India in March or April 2020.
“Then we’ll do brain scans again. Only then will we be able to tell if the treatment’s really made a difference. I believe it has, but then we’ll know,” he says.
The family have two other daughters, the eldest Leané starting Grade 1 next year.
“We don’t want to go, as planned, in February. We’d like to first see how Leanétjie is settling in (at school).”
Ryno tells us this time of the year is especially difficult for the family. “Mienke is getting older . . . She’s tall . . . but yes, that’s how it is,” Ryno says, quickly cracking a joke.
“It’s just thàt time of the year. Everyone’s had enough. We’re doing things in faith.”