Family turns to crowdfunding for daughter's post-brain surgery recovery, Czech insurance doesn't cover therapy that gets results
Martina Girgová was an honor student in primary school who planned to begin her studies at a secondary school with a focus on economics and then to earn a college degree. With an IQ of 140, Martina was enormously equipped to do so.
A brain tumor diagnosis, however, turned her life and that of her entire family upside down in a split second. Today, at the age of 26, Martina is a wheelchair user.
She needs a special kind of rehabilitation therapy to improve her health. Czech insurance doesn't cover it.
Eleven years ago, Martina's parents took her to a neurologist to undergo an MRI after she complained of constant headache. A tumor the size of a plum was discovered in her brain.
That moment changed the Girga family's life forever. "To this day I remember how the doctor came to tell us we had two options, either to take Martinka home and wait, or to agree that she undergo a brain operation to remove half of the tumor, which was difficult to access," Martin Girga, whose father died years before of that same illness, recalled to news server Romea.cz.
Standing in the corridor of the hospital, the family had to make the quick decision to either accept a cruel diagnosis that gave the girl no chance of survival, or accept the fact that the doctors would attempt to save her life with the considerable risk that their daughter would likely not be able to either speak or walk afterward. They ultimately did decide to operate, on the condition that the surgeons remove the entire tumor, not just half.
The procedure itself went well, but soon afterward Martina developed epilepsy, unbearable pain in one leg, and hearing problems. She also underwent a series of radiation treatments that were difficult for her to recover from.
"Since the operation we've had an invalid at home, our daughter couldn't speak, couldn't walk, she couldn't eat on her own," says Ms Girgová, who gradually did teach Martina to speak again. "I fed her by syringe and took care of her as if she were a newborn again, absolutely dependent on her mother."
Mr Girga describes the situation now: "Although our daughter has certain difficulties communicating today, we are happy that she can. We're doing our best to also improve her mobility, we've taken her to spas, we do the prescribed exercises with her more than once a day."
"Our daughter also went to rehabilitation, but it had almost no result. Half an hour of exercising with a ball had no impact on her health," says Mr Girga.
"When we consulted her state with the doctor, he told us that they specialize in people recovering from sudden strokes, but they had agreed to accept Martina's case because the insurance covered it. For that reason, after long reflection, we recently switched to the AXON clinic in Zlín, we commute there from Klenovice na Hané," her father describes.
"At that clinic, the rehabilitation procedure is more intensive, it lasts four hours, and it involves a Lokomat robot," explains Mr Girga, adding that during three weeks of this therapy their daughter improved so much that she can now take a few steps with the aid of another person. "We have great hopes for this Lokomat program, it is the only option available to us at this point in time."
"Lokomat is not covered by public health insurance, though, so the insurance companies don't contribute to this therapy," Margita Girgová explains. "Three weeks of intensive exercise costs CZK 78 000 [EUR 3 000] and transportation is another cost."
"Up to now we've been financing her treatment program from our savings, but because this rehabilitation is relatively expensive, we cannot afford to continue," Ms Girgová says. "For that reason, we have decided to take up a public collection, and so far we have managed to raise CZK 1 000 [EUR 40] for Martinka's rehabilitation."
"We believe somebody can be found to aid us with our attempt to return our daughter to normal life, at least partially," her mother says. You can donate to Martina Girgová's program for rehabilitation here: https://www.donio.cz/axon-martina
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