Fifth surgical implant for baby Nadya

Christa and Nadya Roos.
Christa and Nadya Roos. (Corrie Hansen)

Nadya Roos is only three years old but has faced many challenges in her short life.

She looks like a porcelain doll, here in the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, where several other children are also being treated for hydrocephaly – fluid on the brain.

“She’s doing well. On 8 April doctors implanted a fifth drainage tube [shunt], so now we’re just watching closely for seizures,” says Christa Roos (43), Nadya’s grandmother, who spends most of her time with the little girl in the hospital.

“She’s not sleeping well but we’ll take her back to the doctor next week – this week is a bit hectic.”

Nadya was born with hydrocephaly, an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. The fluid build-up leads to pressure on the brain, which can cause seizures.

“Her head is a lot smaller but still quite heavy. She’s been through so much – pneumonia, a respiratory virus that made breathing difficult, and she also has asthma.

“She and her mom, Melissa, couldn’t even be at my dad’s funeral service,” Christa says. “It was on Nadya’s third birthday. But she’s doing well – we’re not complaining.”

At the beginning of the year doctors implanted a fourth shunt in Nadya’s skull. They’d hoped it would relieve the pressure on her brain.

Nadya Roos

The shunt carries fluid from the base of her skull through her neck and chest to her stomach, from where the body naturally digests and expels it.

Christa and Melissa (24) have had to move from Stellenbosch to Belville, Cape Town, to be closer to the children’s hospital.

Nadya was born on 30 April 2016 at Tygerberg Hospital, Belville. Two days after she was born, doctors implanted the first shunt.

But so far, these surgical devices haven’t relieved the pressure on her brain sufficiently in order to prevent epileptic seizures. It’s hoped the fifth implant will do the trick.

“All we can do is pray,” Christa says.

Image credit: Supplied/Corrie Hansen