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Following her successful operation and positive signs of recovery, it seems Abian Ntshabele’s fight with cancer will take longer than anticipated. The past few weeks had been promising with her mother sharing some positive feedback about her condition. Abian was even expected to make her way home soon but it seems that will take longer than the nation had hoped.
But her mother, Tiny Ntshabele, had warned it would take time before Abian recovers full strength. “She still needs monitoring even when she gets back to Botswana and she will still need to come over to the UK for review,” Tiny had said. But the latest progress report coming from the UK suggests there have been some minor setbacks that will not only affect her progress but raise the medical bill as well.
“Abbie was in hospital on August 21 for a right lung decortication operation to remove the fluid that had accumulated in the chest cavity and got infected,” a statement from Tiny reads. “Antibiotics were not able to resolve the infection hence the operation on August 29th.” Tiny says Abian also had a Hickman line insertion (another smaller procedure) the same day. Following the operation, she says, Abbie had a chest drain inserted to monitor the fluid recollection. This went well and on 10th September she had the drain removed. She says initially the results were quite good showing no fluid accumulation.
However, Tiny says, within a few days a repeat chest x-ray showed that the fluid is re-accumulating. She says this was however not uncommon and was somewhat expected by the team. “Abbie got discharged on 14th September and will be re-admitted on the 25th September for an operation to force the lung into expansion and hopefully end the fluid accumulation problem. Currently she remains on oral antibiotics. She continues with psychologist support, and exercises and she is eating very well and putting on weight,” her mother says, adding, “At this stage we have now been told it may take up to five years for Abbie to be cleared of these tumours.” Tiny says in the meantime the doctors have advised that she remains in the UK for at least the next twelve months until the chest/lung problem is resolved. She is not allowed to fly and therefore they have applied for visa extension to see off the rest of her treatment.
Tiny’s appeal for financial assistance that began in 2014 had yielded the results as funds from Good Samaritans exceeded the initial target set for her operation. The lifesaving operation, initially scheduled to take place in China, had to be done in Belgium because her condition could not allow her to fly. Since the operation, she has been receiving treatment and supervision in the UK where her medical bills have escalated. Unfortunately Abian then developed a number of complications that prolonged her hospital stay to six months instead of the initial eight weeks. These included; 3 further operations after a major one, infections that required intravenous antibiotics and antifungals over weeks, prolonged stay in ICU, fluid accumulation in chest and abdomen (which currently is the main hurdle, requiring another operation), wound break down that ended up requiring a plastic surgery and loss of muscle weight.
“All this means that the initial funds that were available even though the public have given us more than what we had initially asked for, have run out and the hospital bills are still piling,” her mother says. Abian not being a UK citizen cannot be covered under free National Health Service (NHS) and has to pay her own bills. “The doctors will not deny Abbie the lifesaving interventions but they cannot write off her hospital bills,” Tiny says.
“We thus appeal for funds to be raised to clear the outstanding bills and continuing treatment and care for this courageous fighter,” she pleads. The total amount initially raised was P1, 2 million (74,000 British Pounds). The medical bills have however escalated to way over the amount. (19/08/2014 -02/03/2015 ....£36 000 (P578 000) this includes Belgium assessment. 03/03/2015- 09/07/2015.....£69 000 (P1.1M) Negotiated rates from international patients to Private NHS).
“The figures are medical bills only up to July. Abbie has had another operation in August and is awaiting another bill. She is due for another chest operation and her continued care also means the costs will go even higher.”
Tiny says they will shortly restart the campaign for Abbie's further treatment, outstanding bills, care and needs. Full details of the accounts in which to deposit will be given. She pleads for further assistance from the public, government, and private sector.