WALVIS BAY - Eight-year-old Natrovinha Davids from Kuisebmond in Walvis Bay is a bright, optimistic young girl who dreams of becoming a successful medical doctor one day.
However, her life was altered when she became blind and wheelchair-bound due to a virus called juvenile papilloma.
The virus is causing warts to grow in her throat, making it almost impossible for her to breathe or speak at some stages – in addition to other complications such as blindness.
The virus, also known as juvenile laryngeal papillomatosis, is caused by viral infection. The most common culprit is the human papilloma virus (HPV), experts say.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the condition is acquired during childbirth from mother to child.
Medical studies indicate that about 30 percent of children who have juvenile laryngeal papillomatosis at a young age are born to mothers with genital condylomata at the time of delivery.
Natrovinha was diagnosed with the virus five years ago and since then warts have been growing on her throat. However in May last year her condition became so severe she was in a coma for three weeks.
Ironically, Natrovinha, who was in Grade 3, had to drop out of school as the virus attacked her sight, her ability to walk as well as her speech. So far she has only regained her ability to speak.
Natrovinha has undergone 33 operations since being diagnosed with the virus to remove the warts from her throat to prevent her from suffocating.
Her mother, Petronella Davids, told New Era that despite her situation, Natrovinha is optimistic that she will be able to walk and see again.
“She is the one that gives us hope. She is just a sweet child who even in her condition still wants to help with the dishes and other house chores,” an emotional Petronella said.
According to Petronella, it breaks her heart to see her daughter like this especially when she wants to do things for the family despite her condition not allowing her to do so.
Natrovinha’s condition also puts a strain on the family’s finances, as her mother currently stays home to take care of Natrovinha and her two siblings.
Her father, Franky Davids, who is currently employed in the Namibian Navy, is the sole breadwinner of the family and says Natrovinha’s medical bills have also drained the family’s finances as some of the operations could not be done by the state, resulting in medical bills skyrocketing.
“The machines used at state hospitals to carry out the operations have become risky, hence we are forced to do it at private hospitals with the laser method, instead of her being operated on,” he said.
However, he says that their medical aid cannot fully cover the operations, resulting in them incurring medical bills of thousands of dollars.
“At this stage my daughter needs monthly injections that cost about N$13 000 which I have to pay out of my pocket,” he said.
According to him, the injections slow done the growth of the warts in her throat, hence giving her throat time to heal in time prior to an operation.
Above all, he says, his daughter is the courageous one in the family and always tries to cheer up her parents when they face hard times.
“I cannot afford all that. We have been living a tough life, borrowing from cash loans to make ends meet and even to pay rent currently is a challenge. But I have to push through for my daughter. Because I have faith in her. She will get better,” an emotional Franky said.
Natrovinha herself remains optimistic that she will get healed. “Jesus will heal me and I will go back to school and learn hard,” she said with a bright smile.
The family is now appealing for any kind of assistance that will help them pay for her treatment and also special schools that will be able to accommodate Natrovinha while she is receiving treatment.
He father can be contacted at 081 631 0243.