Artyom Pilipenko is five years old. Not long after his birth there were worrying signs that not all was well. At the age of 9 months, Artyom had bronchitis and started to have life-threatening fits. He spent the next 9 months on a ventilator in an intensive care unit.
He developed a raft of serious conditions: epilepsy, slow disintegration of the nervous system, a lung condition, loss of the swallowing reflex, weakening of the optic nerve. Following an unsuccessful procedure to insert a tube into his throat, Artyom’s larynx and trachea contracted and he had to have a tracheotomy to enable him to breathe. After an intensive course of treatment at the Children’s Clinical Hospital, Artyom is now able to swallow dry food but he still has to be fed liquids through a tube to prevent them from going into his lungs. An operation to repair his trachea was only partially successful and so he is still only able to breathe through a tracheostomic tube. This means that Artyom needs special equipment and disposable items at home so that his parents can look after his breathing tube and make sure it is kept clean and clear of obstructions.
Artyom is not able to walk and relies entirely for mobility on his special wheelchair with a reclining back.
Angelika and Andrei, Artyom’s parents, are determined that one day their son will be able to breathe without the aid of a tube, will be able to eat normally and that he will learn to walk.
Artyom has been a patient of Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) since April 2006 and is visited regularly at home by his BCH care team. If it were not for the help of BCH, Artyom would still need to be in hospital and would not be living at home with the love and care of his parents.