Brooke Green­berg, the child who never aged

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - AJAY BHAI AM­RIT SUVA „ The writer is a Fiji Sun colum­nist. Feed­back: ajay@carv­ing­dream.com

Just re­cently I watched a doc­u­men­tary about a beau­ti­ful child who, since birth, bat­tled with a dis­ease so rare that the name of the con­di­tion was called Syn­drome X. This in­spir­ing child, named Brooke Me­gan Green­berg, was born in Baltimore, USA, on Jan­uary 8, 1993 with a rare con­di­tion that even though she got older, she never aged past a tod­dler and al­ways weighed ap­prox­i­mately nine kilo­grams and was about 76 cen­time­tres tall. Her men­tal age was about the same as a two-year-old, which fit­ted in with her frame and looks. She was the third daugh­ter of four and her par­ents would treat her with un­con­di­tional love as would her other three sis­ters tak­ing it in turns to care and nur­ture her. In fact, her old­est sis­ter quit univer­sity to move back home and restart her stud­ies at a closer lo­ca­tion just to be close to Brooke. Never once did any of the fam­ily feel that it was a bur­den to have a spe­cial child like Brooke to care for.

In her first six years, Brooke went through a se­ries of med­i­cal emer­gen­cies from which she re­cov­ered, of­ten with­out ex­pla­na­tion. She sur­vived surgery for seven per­fo­rated stom­ach ul­cers. She had a brain seizure fol­lowed by what was di­ag­nosed as a stroke that, weeks later, had left no ap­par­ent dam­age.

At 4, she fell into a coma for 14 days. Then, doc­tors di­ag­nosed a brain tu­mour, and the Green­bergs were told by the doc­tors she had only days to live. The fam­ily made all the painful fu­neral ar­range­ments even buy­ing a small white cas­ket for Brooke. “We were pre­par­ing for our child to die,” Howard Green­berg, Brooke’s fa­ther said. “We were say­ing good­bye. And, then, we got a call that there was some change -- that Brooke had opened her eyes and she was fine. There was no tu­mour. She over­comes ev­ery ob­sta­cle that is thrown her way.” Once again Brooke de­fied the odds and ap­proached her teenage years the same weight and size as she was as a tod­dler. The doc­tors had said she would be lucky to live for a few years, but now Brooke was ap­proach­ing her 14th birth­day. The doc­u­men­tary I watched was called Child Frozen In Time, a film about Brooke and what I took away from this very mov­ing real life doc­u­men­tary was the im­mense love the whole fam­ily showed for each other. There was a sec­tion when Brooke’s par­ents talked about hav­ing dis­cussed if Brooke out­lived them, they would not be wor­ried about some­one car­ing for her as all three of her sis­ters said they would be hon­oured to take over as her carer - won­der­ful words in­deed in this age of self­ish­ness and self in­ter­est. Hav­ing sur­vived her teenage years, Brooke now cel­e­brated her 20th birth­day. I am con­vinced that with­out the un­con­di­tional love Brooke gave and re­ceived from her fam­ily she would not have got this far. With her big 21st birth­day around the cor­ner Brooke’s three sis­ters and her mother were busy pre­par­ing for this cel­e­bra­tion when tragedy struck. Brooke died on Oc­to­ber 24, 2013, at the Her­man and Wal­ter Sa­muel­son Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Baltimore, the same hospi­tal where she was born. The cause of death was from Bron­chi­tis re­lated causes. At the fu­neral ser­vice the rabbi who had known Brooke her en­tire life said she was hap­pi­est when she was with her three sis­ters, Emily, 26; Caitlin, 23; and Carly, 17. While the out­side world may have no­ticed Brooke’s phys­i­cal stature and been puz­zled by her unique de­vel­op­ment state, she brought joy and love to her en­tire fam­ily. Her par­ents, three sis­ters and ex­tended fam­ily show­ered her with love and re­spected her dig­nity, love and in­de­pen­dence through­out her en­tire life. RIP Brooke Me­gan Green­berg, a unique in­di­vid­ual who pul­sated love. Edited by Naisa Koroi

Brooke gets un­con­di­tional love from her fam­ily.

20-year-old Brooke be­ing cra­dled by her younger sis­ter Carly, 17.

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