Since birth, life has not been easy for this brave, little girl. Joy* was abandoned in the hospital at birth and as a result, she was placed in a child and youth care centre and later in unrelated foster care. Her foster mom was concerned about Joy’s health and she was admitted to a government hospital. When she became ill as an infant, she was admitted for medical intervention, but a correct diagnosis was only after her 1st birthday. For over 12 months, the very food she ate, and the fluid she drank for nourishment, were slowly killing her.
Joy was born with a suspected disease, Fructosemia. Meaning, that she was fructose and sucrose intolerant and her liver could not metabolize it in the infant formula, as well as other drinks and the food she ate. This was gradually causing irreparable liver damage.
At discharge from the hospital, Joy was admitted to GCF’s Child and Youth Care Centre. She was in acute liver failure and her prognosis was very poor. Her life expectancy was not favourable. The girl’s body was not able to correctly process the food/drink she digested, causing permanent liver damage. Joy was severely malnourished, her growth was stunted and she was severely developmentally delayed.
Joy has now reached pre-school age and since admission to GCF, her health and development have improved significantly due to following a nutritional special diet, low or free from fructose and sucrose (skillfully prepared by our kitchen staff), correct medical, therapeutic, and developmental interventions, and daily quality care and love. She is not in acute liver failure anymore (although still has chronic/end-stage liver disease) and developmentally, she is basically on the same level as her peers. Joy loves going to our preschool, and is quite the ‘little teacher’. Her childcare workers implement her medical, therapy and developmental programmes on a daily basis. She is well-loved and is now in an environment where she can thrive holistically.
Certain medical issues and her physical appearance will not be completely resolved, and the liver damage and resulting medical complications are permanent. The great news however is that she has recovered to such an extent that there is now even the possibility of a liver transplant! She is defying the odds, and living life to the fullest, we hope for many more years to come.
(*not her real name)
Written by Glenda Emmerson