PRETORIA, South Africa – Ruaché Botha will be six months old on 15 November but the only thing the little one has ever known is the inside of an incubator, tubes, monitors and needles in the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria.
Though she’d started showing good process, a recent serious setback has meant she’s had to be put back on a ventilator.
Ruaché weighed little more than a can of cooldrink when she was born prematurely at 26 weeks. Her mom, Mari, says she was only the size of a 19-week-old foetus because a blood clot in the umbilical cord had caused her to stop growing.
The baby has had several health challenges in her short life. Her intestines were perforated and needed to be fixed in surgery, after which her intestines couldn’t immediately be returned to her body and were covered with a bag.
Ruaché then started bottle feeding and could be taken off the ventilator but last week she had a major setback.
“Everything was going well but a day or so later she started struggling to breathe.
Mari and her husband, Johan, were told Ruaché’s left lung had collapsed.
“She’s still on a ventilator. Shame, she has a long cut across her tummy after the surgeries. She was able to be fed again the past two days – before that, she could only be fed intravenously. She’s given 15ml of milk through a tube every two hours but we’re hoping she’ll be able to get back on the bottle as soon as she’s taken off the ventilator,” Mari says.
“God had brought us this far; He won’t drop us now.”
Mari also nearly died shortly after Ruaché was born. She needs a kidney transplant because her kidneys were badly damaged during her pregnancy. She’s now receiving dialysis three times a week for about five hours at a time.
The couple drive all the way from Kempton Park every day to see Ruaché.
Just before her setback, Ruaché weighed just under 2kg.
“We can’t weigh her now because of all the tubes and wires but I’m hoping she’ll pick up weight now that she’s being fed milk again,” Mari says.
“We’re still hoping that we’ll get a little present for Christmas – that she’ll come home with us to celebrate it with us. But the doctor has prepared us that she’ll probably still need to be on oxygen. Her lungs will take a long time to recover.”