Therapy offers hope in Emma's brave fight
EDMONTON toddler Emma Deede has more than a fighting chance at life after experimental stem cell treatment became her saviour.
The Cairns community rallied around Emma and her mother Doreen to raise more than $30,000 for Emma to undergo radical treatment after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and stalled mental development as a baby.
When Emma was just nine months old, Ms Deede took her daughter to Germany in November 2010 for a series of operations.
"I was desperate – you do whatever you can. Emma was so bad I thought it can’t get any worse," Ms Deede said.
"Looking back, I’m happy I’ve done it."
Emma is now aged two-and-a-half and is a cheeky toddler with an infectious grin.
To her mother’s delight, Emma is now able to pull herself up and is almost crawling – a milestone Ms Deede could only dream of Emma achieving two years ago.
"She is able to use her hands for grabbing toys and playing with her iPad and she even tries to feed herself with a spoon," Ms Deede said.
It’s a long way from her days before treatment which saw Emma struggle to swallow food, play with other children and reach for her toys.
Ms Deede believes the stem cells have become a foundation for her other treatments which include physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, hydrotherapy and vojta therapy, which helps with body posture.
"The treatment itself took a week in hospital.
"Emma had her own stem cells taken out of her bone marrow (from her spine) then they had to be purified, cleaned and re-inserted three days later."
The stem cells are said to stimulate the brain, and for Ms Deede, this was her daughter’s best chance for increased mobility and one day, independence.
"It will be hard work but she has a chance,’’ Ms Deede said.
"For the short term I hope that she manages to crawl and she develops speech.
"When she makes one word… I will be crying. I think it will be a relief. I’m waiting for her first word.
"And the end of the story is that she will become independent… I really have the hope she will be able to walk in one way, even if it is aided."
On August 4, Ms Deede and Emma will be at the FNQ Cerebral Palsy Support Group’s third Picnic by the Lagoon between 10am and 3pm to raise money for the organisation.
For more information visit www.fnqcpsupportgroup.com/Picnic.
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Hope: Doreen Deede and her daughter Emma in Cairns yesterday. Picture: MIKE WATT