Beach walking with Zee-Anne

03 September 2018 | Events

Otis Finck

A 5 km beach walk to raise funds towards the costs of a stem cell operation for Zee-Anne Delie (8) generated N$1 000 on Saturday in Swakopmund.

A small crowd consisting of family, friends and community members pitched for the event organised by Zee-Anne’s aunt Liezel du Plessis who resides in the coastal town.

Zee-Anne, who lives in Windhoek with her parents, was diagnosed with autism with a language defect at the age of 4. She was further diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of 6. Zee-Anne is currently on medication to treat her condition and also attends speech and occupational therapy on a weekly basis.

Various fundraising initiatives previously organised by her parents generated an estimated N$30 000. Approximately N$25 000 was raised at a sports fundraiser at Jan Mohr Secondary School in July in Windhoek. Plans are to host a similar event at the end of September. Zee-Anne’s parents also regularly host raffles to generate funds towards covering the costs of the operation she needs.

Initial costs for stem cell therapy and a neurorehabilitation package at the Neurogen Brain and Spine institute in Mumbai, India, to be conducted by Dr Nandi Gokulchandran amounts to an estimated US$12 000. This translates to approximately N$180 000 to N$200 000 inclusive of flight costs.

Zee-Anne’s parents however opted for an alternative procedure to be conducted by a Namibian doctor, Tommy van Wyk, at a cost of approximately N$50 000.

“We trust that this procedure will work and bring the required results. If not we will have to continue raising funds for the procedure to be conducted in India.”

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder characterised by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted as well as repetitive behaviour.

Zee-Anne is currently in the Child Intervention and Development Support (CIDS) centre in Windhoek where she is provided with a structured environment and support for her difficulties.

Dr Ansie Robberts, a speech-language therapist who has been working with Zee-Ann since February 2017, says she displays severe expressive language delay as a result of speech difficulties.

“According to research individuals that undergo stem cell therapy show improvement in expressive language. It is expected that stem cell therapy will improve Zee-Ann’s ability to communicate and express herself.”

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