The family of a little girl born with a rare medical condition more commonly found in children with the Zika virus are hoping to raise awareness of the illness.
Two-year-old Jana Ball-Laurova, was born with a rare condition called microcephaly – which means she has an extremely small head and a abnormally smooth brain, which failed to develop properly during pregnancy.
Microcephaly only affects about two babies in every 10,000 and has recently been found in children in Brazil whose mothers were affected with the Zika virus during pregnancy.
Jana’s parents, Zuzana Ball-Laurova, 34, and Dean Ball, 32, from Northfield Gardens, South Shields, are keen to stress their daughter does not have the virus but said they don’t know how she got the condition.
Mr Ball, who works as a process technician on the oil rigs, said: “Jana’s condition is not linked to the Zika virus, but it is the same as what is affecting kids in Brazil.
“A lot of the children over there who have been born with it may have a smooth brain as well. You don’t see a lot of cases over here.
“We don’t know how she developed the condition and we don’t know what causes it.” The condition causes Jana to suffer from seizures and epilepsy and means she cannot support herself.
The youngster has been on numerous therapy courses in the hope of encouraging her memory muscle to function and remain flexible, but the severity of her condition means she will she will have to cope with it for the rest of her life.
Jana, who has a brother Michal Ball-Lauro, five, and sister Susanna, aged one, requires constant care from her mum Zuzana Ball-Laurova.
Dad Dean added: “Jana can’t support herself and we know she is classed as blind as her brain can’t associate any information she sees.
“But she can express her vocal chords, so we know what she wants and she has started to do little giggles, so we know when she is happy.
“Jana is receiving alternative therapy including Anat Baniel Method and cannabis oil from a strain called Charolottes Web which has really helped to suppress some of her epilepsy. There are different levels of microcephaly-but Jana’s condition is pretty severe, so she will have to fight hard for the rest of her journey through life – but we will do our very best to support her and get her to reach her target milestones.”
Jana’s parents are keen to hear from anyone else who has a child with microcephaly - click here to contact us.
Pupils at St Gregory’s school on Harton House Road, South Shields, have raised hundreds of pounds to help little Jana, whose brother Michal Ball-Lauro is a Year One pupil at the school.
The youngsters held a non-uniform day, which raised £450 to go towards equipment which has to be specially made to help Jana’s parents look after her needs.
Mr Ball said he was delighted with the fundraising effort.
He said: “We want to say thanks to the school.
“The fundraising came about after my wife spoke to the head at my son’s school.
“We knew they are always raising money for the school and things for the kids so we thought it would be an idea, since our son goes there, to let them know how his sister needs a bit of extra care.
“We spoke to the head saying that we were raising money for her and asked them if they would like to do something. They agreed, so we wrote a letter for the parents describing what she has and what she suffers from.”