Baby Manqoba Mabhena (pictured) has an infectious toothless smile and a captivating giggle — but that’s not what most people notice when they first meet her.
Her distinctive yellow eyes draw strangers to often ask the question, “What’s wrong with her eyes?”
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Having turned 9 months Tuesday, Manqoba was born with a condition called “biliary atresia,” which was diagnosed when she was 5 months old.
At the time, surgeons couldn’t perform a corrective surgery because her liver was already showing signs of significant damage, meaning the only and best option for her is a liver transplant, and in truth, her liver can fail at any time.
The doctors explained to me that biliary atresia is not compatible if uncorrected. And performing a corrective surgery after 120 days of life is unhelpful.
According to health experts, biliary atresia is a relatively rare disease that begins in early infancy and affects one in every 10,000 to 20,000 infants. And while the cause of biliary atresia is unknown, it is not contagious nor believed to be related to genetics.
In biliary atresia, the bile duct that leads from the liver to the intestine becomes damaged, preventing bile from leaving the liver. In the early stages, the bile duct outside the liver is mainly affected, but in later stages, bile ducts inside the liver are also damaged. This can lead to the build up of bile in the liver, which can harm the liver.
Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, weight loss, itching, muscle loss, loss of appetite, easy bruising, low energy, and weakness, among a wide array of other symptoms that have characterized Manqoba’s life.
To the outsider, this can all seem overwhelming, and it is: it has become my normal to be in and out of hospital.
Raising a child with a chronic illness isn’t easy. It definitely isn’t easy!
As a Mother, I experience a wide variety of emotions, conflicting emotions that pull my heart in different directions.
Any Mother hates seeing her child ill; I wish I could wave a wand to instantly heal her tiny body or take her place to free her from the discomfort.
Every day I try to put on a brave face and wear a smile, but my heart is aching. My child’s illness is emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially draining.
Manqoba is due for a liver transplant at SPS Hospital in India within a month, and the required amount is US$50,000 to cover surgery, airfares, visa fees, and any eventualities.
Me and my husband therefore appeal to individuals, corporations, charity organizations, churches, and more to assist Manqoba to get a new lease on life.
Your financial help will surely save a life.