This year has been one of tremendous growth for Kidzcan. In 2012, Kidzcan provided assistance to 415 children. It is only the beginning of June, and we have already reached more than 580 children! Many of the newly diagnosed children arriving to Paririenyatwa’s pediatric oncology ward are doing so because of Kidzcan’s education and outreach programme aimed at informing medical professionals and traditional medical practitioners about the early signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, and the services Kidzcan provides.
One of these children is Gerard. He is 4 years old and comes from the high density area of Kadoma, where he lives with his parents. When Gerard began to seem unwell and show signs of a swelling head, his parents brought him to the nearby hospital. They found themselves having to sell personal belongings to pay for the mounting medical bills they couldn’t afford, and yet Gerard’s symptoms continued to worsen.
In desperation, they visited a Pentecostal faith healer to ask him to cure their son. Around this time, this paster attended Kidzcan’s education and outreach workshop held for Traditional Medical Practitioners in Kadoma.
That was in January of this year.
At the workshop, the paster approached Prosper, Kidzcan’s education and outreach officer who was conducting the workshop. He told him about Gerard, and that after learning about the symptoms of brain cancer, he thought Gerard needed to be sent to Parirenyatwa. It is ground-breaking for a traditional medical practitioner to be open to this conventional intervention. This is not the first time we have seen this openness and willingness to collaborate to save a child’s life. It has been an amazing process to experience this first-hand.
Gerard was brought in and admitted onto the neuro-surgical ward - A2. Initially, doctors suspected that he was suffering with hydrocephalus - a build up of fluid on the brain. But, as a result of diagnostic investigations - paid for by Kidzcan - doctors confirmed that Gerard, in fact, had a brain tumour.
Surgery was performed to remove the tumour, but a small bit was left that could not be removed. Gerard subsequently underwent 3 sessions of radiotherapy to shrink the residual tumor. He was also given a drug to reduce intercranial pressure. Kidzcan provided this drug, as well as a shunt - a tube that drains the fluids from the brain to reduce pressure. The shunts available at the hospital are only suitable for adults, so parents must purchase their child’s independently, at the prohibitive cost of $200. It is with the help of our amazing donors that Kidzcan is able to provide this support.
And it is through education that more and more children will find their way to the sole pediatric oncology ward in the country. Education, and instinct, empowered one paster to save the life of Gerard. We hope for Gerard that he will grow up healthy and, one day, tell his 4 year old son about the people who worked together to save his life.
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