Among the rising concerns regarding the new virus outbreak in South America, Gwen Hartley tries to bring a glimmer of hope in the Zika scare. The Hartleys have two daughters born with microcephaly, the same condition affecting new born babies from mothers infected with the virus.
The couple already had a healthy son when they received the bad news about their next child. Even though the sonogram looked normal, after a few misdiagnoses, the doctors told them that their daughter, Claire, had microcephaly. Babies affected by this condition have very small heads and subsequently tiny brains. Claire was supposed to be able to live only for one year, but she defied the odds as she lived and breathed five years later.
Her condition impeded her from walking or talking, but she seemed happy nevertheless. This gave the Hartleys courage to have another baby. This time, they went through genetic testing to make sure the condition would not appear again, but the results were normal.
Unfortunately, the 26-week sonogram revealed that their new baby also had microcephaly. However, Lola managed to survive until now, just like her sister. Claire is now fifteen years old, while her sibling has just reached ten.
Until the recent outbreak of the Zika virus that causes this condition, microcephaly had not received much attention from the public. It has been reported that thousands of women in Brazil have given birth to such children and the World Health Organization declared this a health emergency of international magnitude. During those times, the Hartleys’ daughters have started to receive quite some attention.
Gwen Hartley has stated in an interview that even though she and her partner were devastated in the beginning, after some time they managed to understand that there are good parts to life even with this condition and even achieve joy. The two have proven their immense strength, given the fact that both of their daughters also have epilepsy, dwarfism and spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.
Gwen has even started a blog named The Hartley Hooligans which documents the life of the girls in funny but also honest posts. In this way, she is trying to give hope to other parents who are going through difficult moments, but also share her positive vision on the whole situation. Whether she will be able to create a glimmer of hope in the Zika scare remains to be seen, but any effort in the matter is precious.
Image Source: The Straits Times