By Latrishka Thomas
Migraines and seizures are two of the symptoms currently being experienced by a 17-year-old girl who’s been affected by a growth hormone deficiency (GHD) for over a decade.
Now, the desperate mother of Sheniqua Smith is pleading for financial assistance to pay for the expensive treatment her daughter needs.
The teenager, whose skeletal development is similar to that of a four-year-old, stands just over three feet tall. In late 2019, she travelled with her grandmother for consultations at the Juan Manuel Marquez Pediatric Hospital in Havana, Cuba.
While there, the doctors were able to determine the type of medication necessary to combat the deficiency and Smith subsequently returned to Antigua in March 2020, armed with a prescription.
She then received three weeks’ worth of the prescribed medication in late November 2020, and began taking it.
But when the treatment was discontinued (because of the cost) for the first time in her life the fifth-former started displaying withdrawal symptoms in the form of seizures, which occurred twice in January 2021 and once in February.
“This whole situation with my daughter, it is physically, mentally and emotionally frustrating and draining on me as a mother. It is on her, too. To see her tears … and I can’t do anything, it frustrates me even more,” bemoaned Lynika Browne, the young girl’s mother.
Browne told Observer that one “pen” containing 10-15 doses of the medication costs $432 Canadian dollars (EC$920).
She said that, according to the instructions, Smith needed to take the medication once per night for at least two to three years.
“And the medication is not something to start and stop, because it’s detrimental to her health,” she explained.
The distraught mother said while she was receiving the medication, her daughter’s severe headaches disappeared and she had already grown two shoe sizes.
Browne is therefore soliciting up to US$20,000 to start her daughter’s treatment again as Smith is preparing to write the CXC examinations in June.
“It’s not enough, but it’s just to get her started to get her at least somewhere and I believe we can take it from there,” she stated.
“My biggest appeal is to the public and any organisation that can help us. I’m begging, I am pleading for help. I need to get her out of Antigua,” she said as she explained that the goal is to send Smith overseas where she can be treated by an endocrinologist.
The disheartened mother, however, thanked doctors and residents who have offered a helping hand. Persons wishing to make contributions can contact Browne at 721-7399 or 773-7399, or visit ‘Sheniqua growth hormones medication and medical’ on the GoFundMe website.