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PATIENT STORIES

Meet Ammaarah

Thirteen-year-old Ammaarah from Mitchell’s Plain is a beautiful and confident young girl with a very bright personality. Fadiah, Ammaarah’s mom, describes her as a very happy child who loves to take photos and play at home, her favourite place.

Up until the age of ten, Ammaarah appeared completely healthy and she didn’t have a care in the world. “She was actually my healthiest child since the day she was born.” About three years ago Fadiah suddenly noticed that Ammaarah had strange bruises on her little body and took her straight to the nearest clinic. “They did some tests at the clinic and on that very same day they sent us to Red Cross Children’s Hospital.”

At the Hospital the blood tests revealed that Ammaarah’s platelet count was unusually low, which was a major concern, because platelets are the tiny blood cells that are responsible for forming blood clots when bleeding. It was not long after the blood test results came back that day that Ammaarah’s mouth started bleeding too.

At first Ammaarah’s symptoms lead the doctors to believe that she had Leukaemia, but it was only after more tests were completed that they realised this was not the case. The doctors did not give up and continued doing various tests and treatments in the hope of discovering what was causing Ammaarah’s strange symptoms.

The doctors diagnosed Ammaarah with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that has caused her body’s immune system to attack her own organs.

Mom and daughter then spent a total of six exhausting months at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, but after receiving the correct treatment, Ammaarah’s platelet count went up and she quickly recovered. For Fadiah it was a great relief when Ammaarah started feeling better and they were finally able to go home, “she started doing much better and also started Grade 8 in High School.”

A year and a half after being discharged from the Hospital Ammaarah was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital following two sudden seizures. The doctors discovered that the cause of the seizures were bacterial meningitis. This was not entirely a shock to Fadiah, as living with Lupus means that Ammaarah’s immune system will always be slightly supressed and prone to infections.

Ammaarah was initially put on a ventilator in the ICU to assist her breathing, as well as morphine to relieve her of her pain, but this is no longer necessary, as her condition improved very quickly. Ammaarah says she is feeling much better and she is excited to head home soon.

“It is very painful to see my child like this, but sitting here in the ICU I just look around and see all the other little children and small babies who are suffering,” says Fadiah.

For this mom, however, the service at the Hospital is second to none. “All the nurses and doctors are so attentive and I know that I can always rely on them and bring my child in at any time.” Fadiah, who has been in and out of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for a long time, also strongly believes that the building and upgrading of the ICU will make a big difference. “I know this ICU is always full and it always will be, so it will be much better to have more space and beds.”

There are many little children like Ammaarah who currently require special care in the paediatric intensive care unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Help give childhood back by sending an *SMS to 40465 to donate R20 towards building a bigger and better ICU.

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