Face of the 2017 Kids Appeal – Keisha’s Story

Three-year-old Keisha is a typical bubbly toddler. She loves drawing with her older brother Brock, performing concerts, listening to music with her older sister Kiarni, and she really, really loves Geelong footballer Patrick Dangerfield.

However, when Keisha was only three months old, after a very difficult pregnancy, her mother Debbie knew something was different compared to her other two children.

Debbie described it as a ‘horror’ pregnancy. After two relatively straight forward pregnancies, she had regular bleeding throughout her third pregnancy. After a major bleed due to a low lying placenta and placenta previa, she was rushed to hospital for an emergency caesarean. Little Keisha was born at only 33 weeks.

After leaving hospital initially Debbie’s only concern was going home with a premature baby. However, mother’s intuition told her something wasn’t right.

At three months old, Keisha was different to her siblings. She was a quiet baby, who never cried and she hated tummy time. Debbie was reassured by maternal health nurses that her concerns and Keisha’s issues were simply due to her prematurity and that she would eventually meet her milestones.

However, when Keisha was eight months old, Debbie mentioned her concerns to their GP, who agreed and arranged for further testing with a physiotherapist. After an initial assessment and appointments with paediatricians, Keisha was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, believed to have been caused during pregnancy due to lack of oxygen in the womb.

By this stage, the diagnosis was no surprise and Debbie was already prepared for the news.

“By the time Keisha was diagnosed it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would. The only time it really hits me and upsets me is when we are at the park or out and about and I see other kids her age running around and having fun,” she says.

But she believes Keisha doesn’t see herself as different at all.

“Seeing kids run around doesn’t affect Keisha. She watches on laughing. She’s always laughing and always happy. She occasionally gets frustrated when she tries and can’t do something she’s determined to do, but I think the fact that she can move around with her walker and with the help of her siblings means she can do almost everything other kids can!”

Whilst Keisha is now a stubborn, feisty and determined three-year-old, Debbie was devastated when Keisha suffered a 25-minute seizure in 2016.

“It was just so scary. I cried and cried for days. I thought, just when we were moving forward this was another major setback. It really rocked me and it was the first time I was really upset by her condition. But her paediatricians believe she will grow out of this, so we hope this won’t happen again thanks to some medication she is now on.”

With the help of paediatricians, occupational therapists, speech therapists and physiotherapists, Keisha is achieving amazing things. Keisha regularly sees Dr Mike Forrester at the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Centre at McKellar for Botox injections, which have a major positive impact on her progression.

The Botox loosens Keisha’s muscles, allowing her move around and play more. Her first Botox treatment had a miraculous affect and her speech immediately improved. Debbie couldn’t believe what the treatment did for Keisha’s development.

“Keisha went from hardly being able to speak, to speaking quite well. It helped her speech, her balance and all of her movements. We are hoping the next treatment will help Keisha to crawl further and faster.”

Keisha recently started crawling and it is hoped that one day she will be able to pull herself up and even learn to walk.

Keisha will continue to receive Botox injections and physiotherapy at the McKellar Centre. After the amazing care and treatment they have received from Barwon Health and the McKellar Centre, her parents Debbie and Shane are delighted to support the 2017 Barwon Health Foundation Kids Appeal, raising money for a brand new Geelong rehabilitation centre for children and youth.

“Keisha is thriving thanks to the support the clinicians give us,” Debbie said, “We are so excited to be part of this exciting new project. Having a new centre specifically for kids just like our Keisha will be amazing for other families in the Geelong region just like us.”


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