A Port Elizabeth family is desperately trying to raise a substantial amount of money to pay for major arterial bypass surgery that their teenage daughter needs to have in America as soon as possible.
Victoria Park High School Grade 12 pupil Ashleigh Botha, 18 has Intimal Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD), an extremely rare and aggressive disease that narrows her arteries and will ultimately close them if she does not have surgery. In 2009 she had bypass surgery in America and now needs an additional bypass as well as follow-up work on the initial operation.
Thanks to generous support from friends, the public and groups such as the Lions, the family had raised some of the R1,4 million needed to pay for the treatment which would once again be done at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, which had a specialised FMD unit, said Ashleigh’s mother, Colleen Botha. She said doctors in South Africa did not have the specialised knowledge or equipment required to care for Ashleigh.
She said there was no medical cure for FMD but it was possible to control it. “Our main concern is to give Ashleigh the best life possible, even with the restrictions of her disease and save her organs by keeping her arteries open,” she said.
Currently the blood flow to Ashleigh’s digestive organs was limited and she was not able to eat properly and was losing weight. She also experienced severe stomach pain and tiredness.
Ashleigh looks slim and pale but not obviously ill. She said she had close friends who understood her and did not leave her out of things even though she could not participate in sport and had to miss school from time to time. “I try not to let it affect me and to just live my life,” she said. Ashleigh loves modelling and is registered with a model agency in Cape Town.
Several companies in Port Elizabeth and Kingfisher FM have clubbed together to stage a benefit fashion auction on Tuesday (See report) to contribute to the urgent fund raising drive driven by her family. Ashleigh’s situation is also updated on two facebook groups (“Ashleigh Botha Prayer and Support” and “Help Heal Ashleigh”) and the website www.helphealashleigh.com. Information on how to contribute to her surgery fund is posted on these sites.