Durban - Ariana Girran, 4, communicated with her parents for the first time last year.
The child was born with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) which has led to many other health problems, including cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sensory processing disorder, delayed development and hearing loss.
She had not communicated with her parents until she received stem cell treatment in Mumbai last year and she needs further urgent stem cell treatment to continue to improve.
The treatment is not available in South Africa.
This week, Ariana’s mother, Nelisha, said: “She was born at 28 weeks and had hypoxia at birth, with resuscitation taking place for 10 minutes. This means she had an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain during that time and there was quite a lot of damage to the brain.”
The family is from Phoenix, but now live in Pietermaritzburg.
In 2017, Ariana had a shunt in the brain which helped, but it was the stem cell transplant from Ariana’s own bone marrow, done last year in Mumbai, which has made a difference in her life.
“After the stem cell treatment, she started communicating with us. Before that she could not tell us what she wanted, but after the treatment she was able to tell us when she wants food, or when she wants to go to sleep, she now says ‘night night’. Also, if something is not the way it’s supposed to be, such as her socks have slipped down, she shows us.
“She’s autistic so she sees life differently, but as long as she is happy,” said Nelisha, adding that Ariana urgently needed a second stem cell treatment in Mumbai at the beginning of October.
Ariana’s surgeon advised the family that the treatment was effective if done before a child turns 5 and the brain was still in a development stage.
The Act Foundation and The Care4Love Foundation helped raise funds for Ariana’s first stem cell treatment last year.
Dineshrin Naidoo, from the Act Foundation KZN, said the organisation would be holding its second Act of Love Cake Sale to cover Ariana’s medical bills and stem cell treatment. This year it will be its Mandela Day initiative, along with sister organisation, The Care4Love Foundation.
He said anyone would be welcome to drop off cupcakes for the cake sale and urged the public to support the sale, from 9am-3pm next Saturday, July 20, outside Pick * Pay Hyper By The Sea, Durban North.
“Be part of the day’s camaraderie that makes up the spirit of Mandela Day and be the change we want to see in our communities,” he said.