Monday 25 June 2018

'I knew that I could not leave her behind' - Rugby legend and his wife appeal to help adopted daughter Nisha walk again

Eric, Jenny, Hannah and Nisha. Photo: Nisha's Next Step
Eric, Jenny, Hannah and Nisha. Photo: Nisha's Next Step
Nisha has closed lipped schizenchephaly, a form of Cerebral Palsy. Photo: Go Fund Me
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Rugby legend Eric Miller and his wife Jenny have appealed for help to enable their adopted daughter Nisha to walk again.

In August, 2014 Eric, Jenny and their seven-year old daughter, Hannah moved from Dublin to Sri Lanka, so Eric could take up a two-year coaching contract there.

Soon after their arrival Jenny visited a local orphanage for abandoned and differently abled children and met three-year-old Nisha.

“The conditions there were heart-breaking. Many of the children had severe disabilities, both mental and physical; however, the sisters (nuns) were doing the best they could in the circumstances. It was there I immediately noticed a little three-year old girl named Nisha.”

Nisha has a condition called closed lipped schizenchephaly, a form of Cerebral Palsy, and has been in the care of the sisters since she was abandoned when she was ten days old.

“The connection that I felt with Nisha was instantaneous.  I picked her up from her cot, held her for an hour, and wept.  I knew that I could not leave her behind.”

“Over the following weeks Eric and I had many long and heartfelt discussions, often into the night, about adopting Nisha.”

“We visited her every day at the orphanage; having to leave her behind each day was gut-wrenching, as the bond between us all grew,” Jenny says on her Go Fund Me web page.

In December, 2014, Jenny and Eric began the process of adopting Nisha.

“Although the adoption process was long and arduous, it helped that we were able to volunteer in the orphanage, spending time caring for the children and teaching their class every morning. This also enabled us to develop an even closer relationship with Nisha.”

“She began to call us Ama (Mum) and Tata (Dad).We were also so proud of the courage that Hannah displayed, visiting the orphanage and helping the children while also getting to know her soon-to-be little sister.”

On March 23, 2016, Nisha finally was able to go to the family home.

“Watching the girls brushing their teeth together before bedtime was worth waiting for,” Jenny recalls.

Jenny and Eric are now trying to raise funds to bring Nisha to the St. Louis’ Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA, to undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.

They need to raise €70,773 to finance the surgery and the rehabilitation programme. 

“Nisha’s condition means she has permanent spasticity (tightness) in her muscles, which causes her pain. It also inhibits her mobility and she is unable to walk independently. Without intervention, her mobility will continue to deteriorate as she grows.” 

“The surgery must also be combined with a 2-year intensive rehabilitation programme, which can be done in Ireland. This surgery has proven very successful for many patients with Cerebral Palsy, to permanently reduce their spasticity. The goal would be for her to be able to walk independently.”

Jenny and Eric’s "Go Fund Me Five" campaign, where they are asking people to donate €5, can be found here

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