Tinovimbashe Marange is a 16-year-old girl from Mutare, down there in Chikanga. She was born with no disability at all, until she was grade 3, in 2014 when she developed an incurable disease known in the medical circles as Transverse Myelitis.
“Started off as chest pains, and developed to severe body pains, lower back pains and severe shooting sensations that were radiating down to my legs”, says Tinovimbashe as she explained the genesis of her ordeal.
According to the National Organisation for Rare Diseases (NORD), Transverse Myelitis is a rare inflammatory disease that causes injury to the spinal cord. It is characterized by symptoms and signs of neurological dysfunction in sensory tracts on both sides of the spine.
After Tino was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, she was confined to a wheelchair and her life had changed in a matter of months. The problem came when she had to resume school. She was learning at Mt Makomwe, a rural school in Mutare.
This presented her with lots of problems, especially in the mobility sense. The biggest problem that Tino faced was access to Physiotherapy. Her parents made efforts to send her to Mutare General Hospital for weekly exercises, with the hope that her condition was going to improve.
“This is one of the main reasons why I came to KGVI, I had heard so much about the Physio department and so my parents decided to enroll me here,” said Tino.
KGVI therapy department consists of professionals in Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. So, when Tino arrived, they noticed that she needed help and for the past four years, she has completely improved beyond expectations.
Mr Fortune Machinya, a rehab technician who worked closely with Tino said that the first time he met her, he noticed that her neurological system had been damaged and she had difficulties in moving her lower and upper limbs, her range of ankle movement was low, she could neither kneel nor crawl on her own.
“So we worked on her movement restoration, which included kneeling, limb movement, supported standing, strengthening of her muscles and establishing balance and her active and passive range of motion,” says Fortune.
He only got to work with her for a year and half, as he took over from another therapist who had been monitoring her, and in the past four years, the department successfully ensured that Tino gained her independence.
Growing up, she says she always wanted to be a doctor. However, she has developed a new passion for Law. A profession which she says will require only the usage of her mind and brains at most.
Tino is now able to write on her own, she can push her own wheelchair as she has gained strength in her muscles. She also can clothe herself including buttoning and unbuttoning herself, something she could not do because of regular spams which used to occur to her.
As a parting gift to ease her mobility and movements, Tino was gifted with an electrical wheelchair by a kind Donor. She will be finishing her O’levels now and begin on a new journey, pursuing her goals.
“What has satisfied most of us here is that Tino has gained independent living skills and this will enable her to chase her dreams. We wish her well in life,” said Mr Machinya.
In an interview with Mrs Marange, mother to Tino, she expressed her gratitude to King George VI Centre and motivated other parents out there to not lose hope as they should find inspiration in her daughter’s story.
“If there are some parents out there with disabled children, do not lose hope, rather, find inspiration and motivation from Tino. She spent one and half months in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but we never lost hope, and KGVI has done a lot to help her,” concluded Mrs Marange.
Tinovimbashe was under a scholarship from Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. However, it was covering until the end of her form 4.
“If I pass my O’level, I would like to progress to A’level, but to do that, I’m hoping for a scholarship to ease my studies. I am grateful to Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company for sponsoring me thus far,” concluded Tino.