Viki was born in October 2013 in Ruse. He was born underweight – 1400grams – and a month after that he was diagnosed with the Down syndrome. According to the head of the Neonatology department in the Ruse hospital, Viki`s parents wanted to look after him at home. Viki could be released from hospital in a stable condition but he would have trouble eating. He had a bad swallowing reflex and his stomach could not process food in the right way. That is why the eventual conclusion of the medical profession was that Viki would receive the care he needed the Home for Medical and Social Services – Ruse.
Despite the best efforts of the Child Protection Department and family counselors, the family was traumatized by the prognosis and decided to give permission for Viki`s adoption.
In the medical facility, the staff found out that he also had a very serious heart problem. This is the reason that he was not seen to be eligible for adoption.
In 2016 Equilibrium took charge of the old Home for Medical and Social Services in Ruse that now offers innovative medical and social care. At the time of takeover, Viki was already been placed in family-type accommodation for children and young adults with disabilities and a need for constant medical attention. The home is a part of the integrated services known as “Slancho”.
The Equilibrium team provides round-the-clock care to a group of children. Most need tube feeding. At the start, Viki was extremely fragile because of his low weight – at the age of two, he was 5kg. It was impossible to proceed with life-changing heart surgery.
We consulted many medical specialists and – gradually – with the help of other organizations we put together an intensive care and rehabilitation network. We approached Karin Dom Foundation in Varna and Dr. Rouzha Pancheva advised on how to build Viki’s strength and resilient by changing the feeding regime and gradually increasing the quantities provided. Our own speech therapist started work to improve his reflexes to enable him to eat properly. Viki also benefited greatly from the support of Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria. They provided the expensive food mixes and supplements needed by several of the children in our care.
Slowly Viki and the others started gaining weight and their skin colour improved. Viki was on intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy helped him to start eating very small quantities from a spoon and to develop the ability to actually taste the food.
During a visit to the specialist cardiology unit in Sofia, we were given news that we didn’t expect. He no longer needed surgery. On the basis of his progress in our care, Viki’s heart defect is expected to gradually disappear.
Weighing 6100 grams, smiling and articulating, Vihi enjoyed his birthday party with his friends and carers in Slancho.
Viki is no longer with us. He has a new family in the USA and his adoptive parents have special training and a professional support team to ensure that he continues to grow and develop. He has taken his favourite toys and books with him plus special keepsakes from members of our team who – in tears – gave him a traditional Bulgarian send-off. We’ll miss the little guy but we’re happy for him.