Yonatan was born with spina bifida. This is a genetic disorder that affects the development of the brain, skull and spinal cord. Yonatan is part of the 1% of individuals with spina bifida that can walk – almost all children with this condition are wheelchair bound. Things were looking up when he learned to walk at 5 years old after intensive therapy and his parents breathed easy, assuming that he was on his way to being unstoppable. That was until Yonatan’s physical therapist told Sarah, his mother, that walking was not a given. She explained that as Yonatan would grow, his feet would get bigger, he would weigh more, and therefore his center of balance would change. He would need intensive therapy to strengthen and to retrain to carry his weight as he grows and develops. Additionally, there was a small window of time to work on this with intense physical therapy. By 13-14 years old the window would be closed and, without physical therapy, Yonatan might lose his ability to walk and would thereby require a wheelchair. When Sarah heard this news, her son was almost 10 years old. And the race against the clock began.
After an unrelenting search for the right therapist and 8 months of fighting with the insurance authorities, Sarah secured weekly physical therapy sessions in a hydrotherapy pool. But, according to the doctors and the therapists, Yonatan would need 2 sessions a week to maintain his ability to walk. The family did not have the extra money to pay for these sessions. Sarah heard about the Malki Foundation’s Therapies at Home program through a social worker at Alyn Hospital, and immediately applied for help. Yonatan was immediately approved for TAH and is now working hard to strengthen his muscles and his walking skills as his body develops and grows. Sarah says that the money they receive from The Malki Foundation is “literally life-changing”, and that the supplementary funds that [we] provide are “the difference between Yonatan walking or being bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life”. She is supremely grateful to the Malki Foundation for their support as it was “was exactly what I needed when I needed it”. Go Yonatan!!!