It may be insignificant to some, but every little progress baby Mienke makes has her parents smiling.
Two-year-old Mienke Mulder is doing fine back in South Africa after undergoing stem cell treatment in India.
YOU has been following the story of the little girl who choked on formula milk at a daycare centre in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, on August 2017 when she was seven months old.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for her parents, Verna Rheeders Mulder and Ryno Mulder, who have since relocated to Benoni, Gauteng.
However, they’re doing everything within their power for the toddler to get the best possible medical care.
Speaking to Verna, she says the family returned from India on Sunday 30 June.
“It was a culture shock for me from the time we landed, driving from the airport to the hospital,” she says.
Even before arriving at the hospital Verna told her husband she wanted to go home.
“The roads are dirty, it’s actually worse than Hillbrow – it’s shocking,” she said.
Everywhere the family went, including at the hospital, they were required to take off their shoes, as is customary in India. “That was a bit weird for me,” Verna said, chuckling.
But she had a change of heart after reminding herself of the purpose of their visit.
“We weren’t there to stay in a five-star hotel but for treatment for a sick child and that’s all that mattered.”
She can’t stop praising the hospital staff for how well they treated her family.
“Their private hospitals look like our government hospitals,” she explains
“But for them it’s awesome and they tried to make us feel comfortable.”
Mienke received the stem cell treatment on Tuesday 25 June.
“Wednesday [26 June] she had a bit of a rash on her tummy. She was also sweating a lot and a bit swollen – but nothing bad.”
The next day intensive occupational and physiotherapy was used to stimulate her.
Since then the little girl hasn’t had any seizures.
“It’s just so amazing and it’s what we’ve prayed for. She had seizures often but now they’re under control.”
Now it’s a waiting game for the parents to see if the treatment has worked.
“The doctors say we must wait at least six months.
“We’re happy. The experience and the doctors were just amazing,” Verna tells us.
“At 11pm they’d come to our room to check up on us, to see how we and Mienke were doing and whether she was okay. You wouldn’t get that in South Africa.”
She says she found the medical staff’s caring attitude towards patients extraordinary.
“While Mienke was in theatre, one doctor took a video for us so we could see what they were doing and how Mienke was.”
YOU reported last month that Mienke had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Since the choking incident she’s been fed via a feeding tube and she can’t crawl or stand.
Vera and Ryno hope the stem cell treatment will help their daughter with neck control, muscle strength and vision, as she’s been diagnosed with cortical visual blindness.
“Mienke has started laughing,” Verna revealed. “It takes a lot of effort and you’re lucky to get her to smile.
“Yesterday she started laughing from her tummy. Eventually I thought there must be a ghost tickling her.
“That too is amazing.”