Young Caden’s battle to stay alive
ZOLA Benjamin admits she doesn’t know how much longer her son Caden will be alive.
“At the moment he’s not doing too well,” said a tearful Zola.
“The doctors have said that his condition has worsened and his weight has gone up considerably.”
The 10-year-old, who lives in Standerton in Mpumalanga, suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome which results in a constant sense of hunger.
His condition has made it difficult for Caden, who weighs a staggering 90kg, to make friends and live a healthy, active life.
Caden is hungry all the time and is never satisfied.
This is because his brain doesn’t receive the signal that he’s full, forcing him to eat anything he can find.
Not uncommon with this condition is the desire to eat non-edible items to curb his hunger, which introduces a number of complications to his body.
He also has difficulty breathing because he is obese. When he was 3, doctors inserted a tracheostomy tube.
His condition has also affected his intellectual ability. At the age of 10, he has been unable to attend school and can’t read.
“Things aren’t getting any easier for my Caden,” said Zola. “Each day I’m confronted with the likelihood that he won’t make it, but I try to remain hopeful always.
“As a mother there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your own child suffer the way that Caden is. His health is slowly deteriorating and it’s not looking good at all.”
Caden lives with his mom, grandmother and two cousins in a tiny flat in Standerton.
She was forced to give up her job – she was involved with a secondhand clothing business – to provide her son with the 24-hour care he needs. Caden’s specialised medical requirements have also caused an enormous strain for the family as he has to travel to the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria three times a month to see a specialist.
In the last month, the boy has been admitted to hospital several times as his condition continues to deteriorate by the day.
“He went in for an operation last week Wednesday where they fitted a new tracheostomy. However the new (device) is not the right one, and he’s now lost the ability to speak,” says Zola.
Caden’s mom says he’s now also been unable to eat any solids due to the deterioration in his health.
“He hasn’t eaten solid foods for a while.
“Now he only has liquids like Powerade. He is suffering.”
“The doctors have done all they can. They said we should make him comfortable at home.”
Zola has also had to deal with Caden’s medical bills which have been piling up. “We are really struggling financially. I am all by myself and so I battle to pay all his medical expenses.”
Last week, a crowdfunding campaign was set up by family friend Gila Sacks through donations-based crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy.
The Benjamins are hoping to raise R150 000 to pay for the medical expenses
“I was lucky enough to meet this charming young man in February,” said Sacks. “This is the road that has led me to crowdfunding on BackaBuddy. “I hope Caden’s story moves you. “Together we can give him a fighting chance,” added Sacks.
To support Caden’s campaign visit https://www.backabuddy. co.za/champion/project/for-caden
Ten-year-old Caden Benjamin suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome which results in a constant sense of hunger. The rare, incurable disorder affects about 20 000 people worldwide and results in physical, mental and behavioural problems.