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AMERICAN HIMALAYAN FOUNDATION: Learning to walk and making friends at HRDC

Luigi Fieni / American Himalayan Foundation

The doctor’s diagnosis was grim for six-year-old Kapila: her mother, Shanta, was told that she suffered from a hereditary condition and would probably not live past age 20. Broken-hearted, her family stopped seeking further diagnosis for Kapila, and the young girl stopped going to school. By age 12, she had lost the ability to walk entirely, leaving her to use her hands to slide on the floor to get around. A glimmer of hope arrived when a woman whose child was treated by HRDC for clubfoot told Shanta about the hospital. Soon Shanta and Kapila were on a two-day journey to Banepa, just on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where HRDC is located.

“The original diagnosis was that she probably had muscular dystrophy, but I doubted that,” her doctor explained. “MD is unusual in girls, only about one in 50 million, and there were no symptoms in her upper body. Her mother told us she was sick with fever before the onset of her muscle problems, so we are thinking they were caused by polio.”

In the four months she has been at HRDC, Kapila has undergone two major operations to release the contractures in her hamstrings, then spent two months in skeletal traction before being treated with a month-long series of casts to stretch out her knees. After that, they can start work on her feet. Based on similar cases at HRDC, her doctor expects her to be able to walk with some support in about three more months, once her treatment is completed.

Despite a very difficult life, Kapila is always in high spirits. “She is always smiling and talks to everyone here,” the mother of another patient in a nearby bed said. “Everyone is her friend!”

“The doctors and nurses here are very loving,” Kapila says. “I have made so many new friends here too!”

Led by Dr. Ashok Banskota and his son, Dr. Bibek Banskota, the team at the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) care for children with physical disabilities from all over Nepal with unparalleled skill and compassion. To-date, they have given more than 80,000 children futures full of hope and possibility.

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