'Miracle girl' flies home with a hopeful heart

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2008, 12:00am

An eight-year-old Nepali girl flies home today with hopes of a new life after receiving a last-ditch operation in Hong Kong for a rare liver cancer.

Prashashsa Joshi underwent Cyberknife radiosurgery treatment in a desperate attempt to stop the malignant tumour.

She was the youngest patient to receive treatment from the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital's US$5 million Cyberknife since it was offered in 2006. The frameless robotic radiosurgery system is able to non-invasively treat tumours.

'I am fine,' Prashashsa said yesterday, pointing at scars across her abdomen from previous operations - a long one from India and three small coin-sized scars from Nepal.

Called 'the miracle girl from Nepal' by doctors at the Indraprashatha Apollo Hospital in Delhi, she has had her right liver lobe surgically removed after being diagnosed with malignant mesenchymoma.

Nepalese doctors had earlier drained what they initially thought was an infection, but when her fever persisted, she was flown to India.

After the surgery in Delhi, it was touch and go, as she suffered bleeding complications and stayed for 15 days in intensive care. She recovered and then underwent six months of chemotherapy. But in August last year the tumour recurred - growing on the outer edge of her remaining left liver lobe adjacent to her bowel.

To save her life, the girl was flown to Adventist Hospital, the only hospital in the city with a Cyberknife, on June 30 for the hi-tech treatment.

Her mother, Surya Shakya Joshi, said she and her husband had been desperately seeking another option for their daughter because they knew she could not survive another invasive operation.

'She has been the brave one. When she saw me crying, she told me 'Mummy, don't cry. My god will take care of me'.'

Mrs Joshi said it was lucky she worked at the Scheer Memorial Hospital of Seventh-Day Adventists, which is affiliated with the Hong Kong hospital. While her church and the hospital have given the family, who earn US$160 in Nepal, a 50 per cent discount on the Cyberknife, they still owe HK$120,000.

Readers wanting to help with the bill can donate to HSBC: 163-4-014458 Sanitarium Church of Seventh Day of Adventists (Mount VC SDA).