The story of NiQi - A brave young woman who has Cystic Fibrosis

Many years ago I met a young girl called NiQi, my niece's cousin. At the time I knew a little of her story which was remarkable then. She had been removed from her grandparents' care by the Welfare Department as they had assumed she was being neglected.

She was subsequently diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 6 months. Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease which causes the lungs to become clogged with sticky mucous leading to severe breathing difficulties and respiratory infections. The pancreas also degenerates.

Due to this it was decided that NiQi should be put in a foster home, and this is how she came to be my nieces' cousin.

Every 2 to 3 months, NiQi has to be hospitalised for a period of 2 to 3 weeks each time for treatment. She has developed a resistance to all antibiotics but one which makes treatment a lot more difficult. She has to take 25 different medications daily.

Now at the age of 21, NiQi desperately needs to have a double-lung transplant, something her family simply does not have the funds for, considering their considerable ongoing outlay for medical expenses throughout this remarkable young woman's life.

She is currently in hospital being prepared for the transplant and concurrently her family and friends have set to trying to raise the R2 million (£158 000/ $248 000) required. They have set up the NiQi Tanja During Double-Lung Transplant Support Group on Facebook for this purpose.

I feel humbled by the courage of this young woman and by the compassion shown by her family and friends. If you would like to see more about NiQi and what she is going through, follow this link.

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