When seven-year-old Mosipho was brought to the Thabang Society in Parys, South Africa, she was close to death. She had been diagnosed with HIV in January and was seriously ill. “She was suffering from pneumonia and had a swollen abdomen and swollen legs. She wasn’t far from death,” said paediatrician Dr Almud Pollmeier.
Mosipho, who has lived with her grandmother since the death of both her parents, was discharged from hospital after three weeks. Her health had improved but she still wasn’t on antiretrovirals (ARVs) and once she came out of hospital she started to deteriorate.
Mosipho was taken to a specialist paediatric unit in Johannesburg where extra-pulmonary TB was diagnosed. The Thabang Society receives antiretroviral medicines from Caritas, but treating a child with TB medication and ARVs at the same time is problematic.
“It can cause a severe immune reaction and the child can suffer a lot,” explained Dr Pollmeier. “We had to find a way of treating Mosipho because we realised we didn’t have much time.”
The Thabang Society arranged for Mosipho to stay in an orphan home and to be looked after by two carers when she started the ARV treatment.
“We were lucky because she didn’t experience major side effects,” said Dr Pollmeier. “She’s getting her smile back and she’s getting stronger every day. She’s gone back to school, back to her family…she’s getting to be a big girl!”