‘2000 names for Sienna’ to raise funds for stem cell procedure
JOHANNESBURG – Calling it ‘2000 names for Sienna’ a mother is trying to raise funds for a stem cell procedure to help little Sienna Reddy (6) who suffers from Autism, sensory processing disorder and Dyspraxia.
Sienna was diagnosed with Autism and sensory processing disorder (SPD) at 18 months old and later on with Dyspraxia. “It concerned us when she didn’t answer to her own name, when she would go to my helper and try to breastfeed because she didn’t recognize who her mum was and when she would start to scream and cry hysterically for hours on end,” said mother, Rishika Reddy. After taking an auditory brain response (ABR) hearing test and visiting a neurologist, Sienna was diagnosed. Now, at six-years-old, Sienna still battles with “severe meltdowns” where she becomes self-injurious to the point that she has to be restrained. “She bites , scratches and head bangs so violently that I can recall rushing her to the emergency room for nose bleeds after banging her head so hard into a wall,” said Rishika who has resigned from her job to provide the 24-hour supervision that Sienna needs. “I am the only one in the world who understand her,” said Rishika.
Little Sienna’s SPD effects her daily life. “With SPD, everything is overwhelming, sounds are more intense, light is very bright, clothes feel like nails on her skin and she’s in a constant state of heightened adrenaline” said Rishika. The everyday activities that most take for granted are beyond her grasp. “She cannot point, clap, brush her teeth, wipe her face or go to the toilet on her own and she cannot follow or understand instructions,” said Rishika. While most children start to talk at two years, Sienna has yet to utter her first word. The Dyspraxia she suffers from makes it more difficult for her to gain speech and she remains non-verbal. “How I long to hear my baby call me ‘mum’ or say ‘I love you,’” said Rishika.
Searching for a way to help Sienna, Rishika came across a procedure that might help. “We have been researching stem cell replacement therapy which is a procedure where stem cells are taken from the child’s bone marrow in the hip and injected into the spinal fluid to reach her brain,” said Rishika. According to her research, once injected, the stem cells start to rebuild and repair any damaged cells in the brain. “This procedure and method is only done in 4 countries across the world thus far, one of them being India, which is where we want to take Sienna to have it done,” said Rishika.
While this procedure is by no means a cure for autism, it has been reported to alleviate the symptoms considerably. “All we want is for our little girl to have a sense of well being in this life,” said Rishika.
The idea behind ‘2000 names for Sienna’ is that the procedure and two-three follow up booster shots would be paid for if 2000 people each donated R200 to the cause. “A small donation will go a long way in getting Sienna the help she needs,” said Rishika, “when it comes to the well being of your child, there is no such thing as pride and so as a mother I am pleading with the public to dig deep within and help my little angel find a little bit of peace.”
Contact Rishika Reddy