Fund Stories

Thusanani Children’s Foundation (TCF)

Baby T was born 3 months premature and immediately abandoned by his mother. As a result of his prematurity he had severe lung damage and was repeatedly in hospital with chest infections. During his first year, he was slow to grow and gain weight and his development was well behind his expected milestones. Once his chest medication was finally optimised, his health started to improve and by a year there was a marked difference in his health. The TCF occupational therapists worked hard to help him achieve his developmental milestones. He has made wonderful progress and we were all thrilled when he was accepted for adoption

One of his little friends is still awaiting her family. She was also a small premature baby whose developmental progress was very slow. Baby P's situation is complicated with being HIV positive. Unfortunately she is resistant to standard antiretrovirals and must gain more weight to be able to start alternative ARVs. Her health has improved and stabilised and with regular OT she has made huge progress. She is now an active 2 year old with a sunny personality. We sincerely hope that she will find a family who are willing to manage her complicated HIV treatment. 

Twins G and G were given up for adoption at 10 months of age. They were small, malnourished and unwell. Our paediatrician diagnosed them both with tuberculosis at our clinic and they were referred for appropriate medication. Within 3 months of starting TB medication and the provision of a good diet in their place of safety, they have grown into strong and healthy babies. This speedy diagnosis and quick management has resulted in their adoption by a family here in South Africa.

Orbis Africa – eye-health training for health professionals in KZN

Early treatment can prevent blindness

This photo depicts a child called Minenhle, with her aunt and Sister Thabile in a consulting room at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH). Minenhle’s family has overcome multiple obstacles for her to undergo sight-saving cataract surgery. Minenhle lives with her family in a rural area north of Durban. She was born with a white spot in her eye; health workers in the hospital where she was born did not notice the white spot or it was overlooked.

Her family did not pay attention to it until the child began crawling and started walking. She was bumping into objects right in front of her, so her grandmother suggested to Minenhle’s father that he give them money to take her to the clinic. Minenhle was then taken to KwaMashu Clinic where she was screened by nurses and it was discovered that she had cataracts in both of her eyes. They referred her to St Adains Hospital, where they could not operate on her as her eyesight had deteriorated badly. She was then referred to a tertiary institution: the IALCH. Minenhle finally underwent the operation successfully on both eyes at IALCH. The nurses who screened Minenhle at KwaMashu Clinic were trained by Orbis through the Discovery fund.

Jabulani Rural Health Foundation

The story of Thembi* and her son Vuyo* is the perfect example of the effective partnership that we have on the HIV/TB Programme and the impact that a grant such as this can make on an individual level. Vuyo’s 6 week PCR was negative. However, when we discovered that Thembi was not virologically suppressed and needed to be changed to second line ARVs, a paediatric HIV expert advised that Vuyo should be started on triple therapy despite the negative PCR, in an attempt to ensure that he did not contract HIV while his mother continued to exclusively breastfeed him. Due to this unusual decision, the regimen prescribed was not common and was therefore unfamiliar to all members of the team. This unfamiliar regimen provided further complications as a result of the dosages available to us from the local depot. As such, the instructions for preparation and administering of the ARVs were complicated. The support team got instructions from the pharmacists and created simple guidelines on preparation and administration for the nursing and lay staff at the relevant clinic, that were then also explained in person.

The patient was also being supported by our partner organisation, Philani Mentor Mothers, who were also brought in so that the mother could be regularly visited at home and supported to administer the drugs correctly. This close support was needed because in addition to the complications already mentioned, the mother is unable to read. Each time medication was dispensed, the bottles and syringes had to be specifically and clearly marked to prevent administration errors; each time the patient was seen at the clinic by the nurse or doctor, they were accompanied by a support person to ensure everything was done and understood correctly. This patient required many hours of personal support and follow up, from a variety of partners but the good news is that the mom is now virologically suppressed, Vuyo was breastfed for a year and he is still PCR negative!

What makes this particular story so remarkable, is that in many others settings, this situation may have had a very different outcome. Being HIV negative at his 6 week PCR would have meant that Vuyo would not have been entered onto an ARV programme or been monitored and in all likelihood may have become HIV+ after being breastfed by a virologically unsuppressed mother on second line treatment.

Being able to provide this kind of detailed support down to the individual level is not possible without all partners doing their bit and pulling together for the sake of our patients rather than any individual or NGOs gain. Coordinating all the support for Thembi and Vuyo and ensuring that communication between all parties was accurate would not have been possible without the Discovery Fund supported team in place here. We may not be able to change the world but we try our best to be a world-changer, to every patient, one at a time.

*names changed to protect confidentiality



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