wheels: Little Hannah Bhagwandeen enjoys riding her tricycle which she got for Christmas.

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Little Hannah battling on after 9 major surgeries

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

HANNAH Bhagwandeen has faced more challenges in her five years, than many people do in a lifetime.

She has undergone nine major surgeries, since being diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver ailment, when she was six weeks old. And her struggles are far from over.

Hannah continues, however, to inspire doctors and patients at medical institutions locally and abroad.

Another little girl, who was also diagnosed with biliary atresia, didn't survive to celebrate her first birthday.

Angelina Beepath died while undergoing surgery for a liver transplant last September. She would have celebrated her first birthday on December 6.

Her million-dollar medical treatment was paid for by the State.

But little Angelina died after spending 12 hours on an operating table at the Specialist Transplant Hospital in Argentina.

Hannah underwent a Kasai operation, followed by a liver transplant before her first birthday in 2008. Her father, Joshua Bhagwandeen, gave piece of his own liver to save the life of his firstborn.

A second liver transplant was done three months later from an unknown cadaveric donor.

The surgeries were performed at the Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

The child's plight was highlighted in the Express and readers assisted with some of her medical expenses in 2008.

Little Hannah developed hearing loss in both ears, following the surgeries, and received a cochlea implant on her left ear in 2010 at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto, Canada.

Her most recent surgery was done at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope last week.

Doctors removed her port-a-cath, which was inserted in her chest for medications, fluids and nutritional solutions.

Her mother, Thalia Badal-Bhagwandeen, said Hannah is brave and struggles to overcome her daily challenges.

"Miraculously, she overcomes (her challenges), she is very brave, and God continues to bless her tremendously and allowed her to continue carrying on and filling our lives with so much joy," she said.

Hannah started preschool in September last year. She donned her uniform and was like any other child, enjoying playing and learning.

In April 2012, Hannah started eating nonstop but was losing weight. She suffered from acute renal failure and then her body started rejecting her liver. She had gotten severe eczema throughout her body, all her hair fell off; she was severely malnourished and all her mineral and vitamin levels were dangerously low," Badal-Bhagwandeen said.

Hannah returned to the hospital in Maryland, USA, where doctors stopped all food intake and said her small intestines were severely damaged. The cause of her latest ailment is still unknown, Badal-Bhagwandeen said.

"She started special IV nutrition and special formula through a naso-gastric (ng) tube. Her liver and kidney failure were reversed, and she started what we were told months of TPN and very slow introduction to certain foods, to rule out severe food allergies," she said.

A week before Christmas, Hannah celebrated her fifth birthday.

"She is gaining weight, eating well, tolerating foods, she has since stopped her TPN and ng tube feeds. She is now back to just her twice-a-day anti-rejection medication," her mother said.

Badal-Bhagwandeen said her daughter was in speech therapy.

She is talking, singing her ABCs, and even learning some sign language.

"She is very enthusiastic to learn. She loves riding her tricycle she got for Christmas. Hannah is a very charismatic child, who is very expressive; she has such a special charm."

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