Saturday, April 18, 2015

The girl who would live forever...

Matheryn Naovaratpong was two years and two months old when she didn't wake up on the morning of April 19th, 2014. She was rushed to a hospital in Bangkok, where doctors discovered an 11 centimeter-long tumor in the left half of her brain. Matheryn—her family called her Einz for short—had ependymoblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer that afflicts the very young. The prognosis is exceedingly grim; at its highest, the five-year survival rate is 30 percent. Einz had fallen into a coma.

In that first surgery, doctors extracted half the tumor and drilled through Einz’s skull to relieve the pressure on her brain. After it was over, they told her parents, both of whom are PhD-holding scientists, that she would probably never awaken. Even if she did, they said, the cancer was incurable—the hospital advised them to take Matheryn off life support.

“But in a week,” Dr. Sahatorn Naovaratpong told me in an email, “Einz woke up and regained her 2 years’ consciousness, she responded to stimulation, and surprised everyone. Einz represents the worth of Life.” Sahatorn is Matheryn’s father. (He spoke to me via email through his sister Dararat, who translated the messages.)

The event inspired the family to push on with treatment. “We decided to fight against this cancer,” Sahatorn told me. “We may not beat it, but her life can lead to a further step of mankind to overcome cancer in the future.”

 Over the next year, the two-year-old would receive 12 brain surgeries, 20 chemotherapy treatments, and 20 radiation therapy sessions. Einz lost 80 percent of her left brain, essentially paralyzing the right side of her body. There were moments of great hope and pitched sorrow; Sahatorn described the period as an emotional roller coaster. Full story...

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