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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

June 9, 2008

Teenager With CMT Disease

Greymouth teenager, Sidney Wanhalla-Smith has been undergoing treatment for a rare genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease at the West Coast DHB's Grey Base Hospital.

Sidney Wanhalla-Smith (aged 15) working on his Correspondence School lessons from his bed in Grey Base Hospital.

Sidney Wanhalla-Smith (aged 15) working on his Correspondence School lessons from his bed in Grey Base Hospital.

The disease affects the nerves and muscles of Sidney's feet and hands causing the loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation resulting in him walking on tip-toes. The problem was first recognised by Sidney's GP in February 2007 and he was referred to a specialist at the West Coast DHB.

Locum orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Vasu Pai from Gisborne, has been involved in the 15 year old's care and recently operated on Sidney's feet to ensure that he can move more comfortably and maintain a good degree of balance.

Mr Pai said "The condition cannot be cured, but we can lessen the risks of ongoing deformity. There is a chance that Sidney may require further surgery as he grows and this will be reassessed regularly".

Sidney's mother, Donna Wanhalla has been full of praise for all involved in her son’s care. They were given the option of having the surgery carried out in Christchurch but chose Greymouth, particularly in view of Mr Pai's previous experience in operating on this condition.

Ms Wanhalla said their whole family has been made welcome and felt that her son had received the best possible care at Grey Base hospital where he had been treated as an individual and staff had not just focused on his condition.

Sidney, who is currently in plaster, will require physiotherapy and occupational therapy treatment once his casts are removed.

For more information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
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