I want to go back

Steps to a brighter future: Chantha’s story

Chantha* is a four-year-old boy living with his parents and two older siblings in Banteay Meanchey Province, about 100 kilometres outside of Siem Reap. His parents are wholesale antique suppliers and often travel back and forth to Thailand to sell to collectors.

Chantha has had many health issues since he was very young. When he was three months old, his mother noticed that he couldn’t properly focus his eyes, so she took him to Thailand to see eye specialists at several hospitals. She was advised that Chantha required surgery on his eyes, but this was prohibitively expensive. About a month later, she came to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) where eye surgery is performed free of charge. This surgery improved Chantha’s vision dramatically, though he still needs to wear corrective lenses.

Chantha has also experienced pronounced developmental delays. In the first few years of his life, he was unable to eat anything but baby foods and liquids, hold his head up, or sit up without support. He began physiotherapy treatment at AHC in 2014. Through the combination of intensive therapy at AHC and twice-daily exercise sessions with an at-home care worker, he learned to eat solid foods, roll over, grasp objects, and sit up on his own at the age of three. But, at age four, his neck moved involuntarily and he was still unable to walk unassisted.

Further complicating his case, Chantha first contracted pneumonia at around three months. This weakened his immune system and, in spite of treatment, the condition reoccurs often leaving him exhausted and sometimes unable to exercise.

In spite of these setbacks, Chatha’s mother says she has seen a lot of improvement since he began treatment at AHC. Mr. Tan Sethy, physiotherapy unit manager at AHC, says that with hard work Chantha might be able to walk in the future. He will need to continue at-home exercise routines twice a day, health permitting, and to come in for regular sessions at AHC to monitor his progress. The physiotherapy team has also advised Chantha’s family to build a walker with wheels to help him practice moving around the house on his own.

Both the physiotherapy team at AHC and Chantha’s family are optimistic about his future. Chantha’s mother says she will never give up hope that he will live a normal life and that she will do her best to follow the doctors’ advice and be consistent with his exercises in order to get Chantha’s the best possible outlook.

*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of patients

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