Mother makes shock rev­e­la­tion

Lesotho Times - - Feature - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

HE is eight years of age but Khotso Chelepe has not tasted food in his en­tire life, and feeds via a tube in­serted into his body through the stom­ach.

And un­like his age-mates, Khotso can­not walk around as he is wheel­chair-bound, while he also can­not ut­ter a word due to his dis­abil­ity.

All the boy does the en­tire day is sit near his mother, Lim­pho Mo­hapi, who in­stinc­tively knows when her child needs help.

Khotso smiles shyly as his mother feeds him his spe­cial milk, be­fore top­ping-up his only meal with ster­ilised wa­ter.

When the Le­sotho Times crew vis­ited the fam­ily at its Litha­ba­neng home yesterday, Ms Mo­hapi said her son was only alive “through the grace of God”, and of-course, well-wish­ers.

“His only meal is this spe­cial pow­dered milk, which re­quires spe­cial at­ten­tion to mix it with wa­ter. Apart from the milk, Khotso can only have cold but ster­ilised wa­ter or coke,” Ms Mo­hapi said.

Khotso’s milk, Pe­dia-sure, is a spe­cial brand his mother says she could only get from a cer­tain out­let in South Africa.

“This tin of Pe­dia-sure (900 grams), which he fin­ishes in three days, costs R200 at (name of the shop with­held) where I can only get it,” Ms Mo­hapi said.

Born “strangely” but nor­mal on 29 Jan­uary 2007, Khotso only de­vel­oped a “spe­cial kind of dis­abil­ity” eight months later, which has since not only baf­fled lo­cal doc­tors, but even South African spe­cial­ists, ac­cord­ing to Ms Mo­hapi.

The 32-year-old sin­gle mother said she “un­ex­pect­edly” gave birth to Khotso, “be­cause there were no signs that I was ready”.

How­ever, with the boy look­ing and be­hav­ing nor­mal, Ms Mo­hapi said she was sur­prised to re­alise some­thing “was just not right” when her son was eight months of age.

“When he was eight months old, he de­vel­oped a sick­ness which made him shiver con­tin­u­ously.

“And all of a sud­den, my child showed signs that he could not use his limps, and he be­came silent. I then took him to Queen (El­iz­a­beth) II Hos­pi­tal for treat­ment, not know­ing we would be ad­mit­ted for three months while doc­tors tried to find out what was wrong with my child. He was tested and re-tested by the doc­tors and the re­sults were a con­fus­ing neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive in ev­ery ill­ness he was be­ing tested for. And his health was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing alarm­ingly all the time. At last, the doc­tors said my child was suf­fer­ing from brain dam­age,” Ms Mo­hapi said.

Khotso was dis­charged from Queen II in Jan­uary 2008, with the hope that he would go for treat­ment in South Africa.

“I had to let go of ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing my job at the textile fac­to­ries, to al­ways be around my boy and take care of him. The pro­cesses to trans­fer Khotso to Bloem­fontein hos­pi­tals by gov­ern­ment, were very long. Even­tu­ally, we were ad­mit­ted at Univer­si­tus Hos­pi­tal in Bloem­fontein on 10 Novem­ber 2008 for about a month. This was where spe­cial­ist doc­tors con­firmed Khotso had brain dam­age, a con­di­tion which paral­ysed his en­tire body.”

When Khotso and his mother were dis­charged from the hos­pi­tal on 1 De­cem­ber 2008, it marked the be­gin­ning of a strug­gle for sur­vival.

“I un­der­took a one-year pro­gramme on Spe­cial Needs in 2011 through the ad­vice of the doc­tors so that I could pro­fes­sion­ally take care of Khotso. I was able to com­plete the pro­gramme in Bloem­fontein, where I pur­sued the en­tire pro­gramme—thanks to some lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als who spon­sored my en­tire learn­ing process in terms of tu­ition, ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­port and other nec­es­sary fees,” she said.

How­ever, Ms Mo­hapi says she has con­tin­ued to strug­gle as she also looks af­ter her other son who is 13 years of age. The fam­ily lives in a four-roomed apart­ment in Litha­ba­neng, and Ms Mo­hapi says her hus­band left her in 2011.

“With the help of a cer­tain Amer­i­can woman whose name I can­not men­tion with­out her con­sent, we were able to move from where we pre­vi­ously stayed to this bet­ter apart­ment. This Good Sa­mar­i­tan is pay­ing M1, 500 per month as rent for our stay here. She also pays for other treat­ment fees and food for Khotso,” Ms Mo­hapi said.

Khotso goes for rou­tine check­ups at two lo­cal med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties, as well as two oth­ers in Bloem­fontein. He also vis­its a spe­cial­ist based in Lady­brand, South Africa.

“It is a must for him to at­tend all the med­i­cal check-ups in Le­sotho and South Africa. And this costs money, which I don’t have. Khotso has a fun­ders’ bank ac­count but some­times it has as lit­tle as M40, and I would be stranded,” she said.

How­ever, Ms Mo­hapi said she re­cently stopped tak­ing her son for checkup at a cer­tain fa­cil­ity, al­legedly af­ter be­ing told the bill had ac­cu­mu­lated to M68mil­lion. The Le­sotho Times could not ver­ify this in­for­ma­tion with the hos­pi­tal yesterday.

Yet what has added to Ms Mo­hapi’s dis­tress was news by the Lady­brand spe­cial­ist this week that the boy was de­vel­op­ing “an­i­mal teeth”.

“Only yesterday (Tues­day), the Lady­brand spe­cial­ist dis­cov­ered Khotso is grow­ing an­i­mal teeth, and not nor­mal hu­man teeth. This has come as a shock to me but I must con­fess he had be­come ag­gres­sive and was bit­ing ev­ery­thing and any­thing,” she said, adding she had not been told what the “an­i­mal” was hence the need to take him for fur­ther tests.

But while Khotso has an ap­point­ment to have the teeth “looked at” in Lady­brand to- day, he might fail to make it be­cause his pass­port has been de­clared “in­valid” and needs R1, 500 to be “fixed”.

“We used to cross the bor­der on a weekly ba­sis, and immigration of­fi­cers would al­ways com­plain that Khotso’s pass­port was in­di­cat­ing that he had over­stayed in South Africa at some stage. This came as a sur­prise to me be­cause my son has never gone to South Africa with­out me. I have al­ways trav­elled with him so if his pass­port has a prob­lem, so should mine, yet this is not the case here. For a long time, I had told them it was their fault if Khotso’s pass­port had a prob­lem and I was think­ing they would un­der­stand. But only yesterday, they de­manded R1, 500 to fix the prob­lem, and I don’t have this money,” she said.

Khotso trav­els in a spe­cial wheel­chair do­nated to him by Univer­si­tus Hos­pi­tal in South Africa. His feed­ing tube, worth around M5000, is per­ish­able and should be re­placed af­ter ev­ery six months by an ex­pert.

Ms Mo­hapi hopes to open a day­care cen­tre for dis­abled chil­dren and utilise the skills she has ac­quired tak­ing care of Khotso and the Spe­cial Needs train­ing she at­tended.

MS Lim­pho Mo­hapi feeds her son Khotso through a spe­cial tube.

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