Her little pony : Miniature horse provides a spark in the life of a terminally ill child
Santa Barbara News-Press | April 13, 2011 | By Karna Hughes
Horses have always held a special place in the hearts of little girls. Maybe it’s the way their manes hang down — kids can’t help wanting to run their fingers through them. Or maybe it’s how powerful the animals are, the way they seem like they can vanquish anything as they gallop around.
The family of Gwendolyn Strong, 3, may never know exactly why she loves horses, because her mouth can’t form the words to tell them.
Diagnosed at 6 months old with type I spinal muscular atrophy, she has to wear a respirator to help her breathe because the muscles around her lungs have atrophied.
But it’s clear how much Gwendolyn is thrilled by ponies in the way her big blue eyes light up when she sees one. The sight of a horse will also cause her to make what her mom, Victoria, calls her “happy sound” — guh, guh, guh!”
Cognitively, she’s just the same (as other 3-year-olds) but the disease is degenerative, so as time goes on, she’s more and more impacted,” said Mrs. Strong, 34, a Santa Barbara resident.
Spinal muscular atrophy, which affects nearly one in every 6,000 babies, causes wasting in every muscle in the body and has no cure. It’s a terminal disease; most children who have type I die at 2 years old.
Gwendolyn can’t sit, stand, walk, eat or breathe without assistance. So she’s supported by a battery of machines, including a feeding tube, a suction device that helps her swallow, and heart-rate and oxygen monitors.
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