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Yehoshua Liknaitzky was born on August 26, 2016 in South Africa, weighing just under seven pounds. There was a lack of oxygen at birth, medically known as birth asphyxia. One of the resulting complications was that Yehoshua had trouble with his feedings and could neither nurse nor take a bottle. Instead, he was fed through a nasal tube. While he struggled to progress in his feedings, having now also developed terrible reflux, he was kept in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

After six weeks, he underwent surgery to insert a gastric PEG – a feeding tube that is placed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach, after which he was sent home. The pediatricians diagnosed him with cerebral palsy.

The family decided it was time to seek help from experts in the field, even if it meant leaving South Africa. Shira, Yehoshua’s mother, said, “I continued to do research until I found a place full of angels, Hashem’s greatest gift to us – ALYN.”

On a family trip to Israel in June 2017, they brought Yehoshua to ALYN for a consultation. The ALYN team decided that Yehoshua should be put into a three-week intensive weaning process. “Then and there, we cancelled our flights home and started with ALYN the next day,” Shira said.

ALYN’s Feeding Rehabilitation Clinic is multidisciplinary and includes a senior pediatrician, speech therapist, developmental psychologist, dietician and a physiotherapist. Yehoshua’s treatment focused on weaning him from the feeding tube. ALYN’s specialists not only helped Yehoshua gain the skills for eating on his own, but also worked with his parents so that they could assist Yehoshua through his progress. Yehoshua stayed at ALYN for the full three-week program and made a huge leap forward. By the time the family went back home, he was eating a variety of foods, and ceased retching. The family then returned to South Africa, where they applied the skills they had all learned at ALYN. Remote video consultations continued with the ALYN team, until full weaning off the tube was achieved.

At home, feeding time became exceptionally difficult as Yehoshua would projectile vomit at every feed and could not keep anything down. As a result, he was not gaining weight - the reflux had worsened drastically due to the gastric PEG.

Over the next few months, the family tried a number of different methods to help Yehoshua including speech therapy, changing his formula, trying anti-reflux medications and seeing a gastroenterologist. Nothing seemed to help. As a last resource, a surgical procedure called a Nissen Fundoplication was performed, which prevented him from vomiting.  At this point, he was entirely feeding-tube dependent. Following the surgery, Yehoshua continuously retched very often and screamed in pain. Observing this as a parent can be extremely frightening.

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In January 2018, Yehoshua had his feeding tube removed. He no longer struggles to eat. His behavior is age-appropriate. He just celebrated his fourth birthday and is showing no signs of cerebral palsy or other special needs. He attends school and is loved by all who meet him.

“We are where we are today because of the special ALYN family. Words cannot begin to describe how grateful we are to ALYN. Thank you for your kindness, your support, your love, care, devotion, for ensuring that Yehoshua had the best care possible during his time with you as well as the fact that we too were looked after and cared for.” -  Shira and Elchonon Liknaitzky

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