A special dolphin moment for Muhammad

Seven-year-old Muhammad Hussain from Port Elizabeth had a long-held dream: to touch a dolphin – and with a little of help from a group of good people, his dream was realised recently at uShaka Sea World.

Being diagnosed as an infant with haemophycotic syndrome and in March 2012 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, meant Muhammad’s short life has consisted of long periods of hospitalisation and home care by his parents.

Muhammad touches Gambit the dolphin, a long-held wish of a very sick young man. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

The Little Fighters’ Cancer Trust (LFCT), an NGO whose mission it is to support children with cancer, says there are currently more than 1 000 little fighters in South Africa who are battling similar daily trials with their families. LFCT became an integral a part of the Hussain family from the time Muhammad was diagnosed.

The staff and volunteers of Little Fighters draw inspiration from the children they spend time with, so when Muhammad expressed a wish to go to Durban and touch a dolphin, they immediately began planning and fundraising.

On 11 October 2016 Muhammad and his parents boarded a plane for Durban, with the date set for him to interact with one of the dolphins on 13 October. Unfortunately after his arrival Muhammad fell ill and needed to be hospitalised in the intensive care unit at a local hospital.

After 10 days in hospital it was time to fly home in a specially equipped helicopter, but how could he return home without meeting a dolphin? Muhammad’s dad, Ebrahim, told uMhlanga Hospital manager, Mark van Heerden about his son’s dream, and Mark immediately started calling people to make it happen.

Muhammad offers Gambit a fish, the dolphin's favourite food. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

Within an hour and a half after their conversation, Muhammad was being gently transferred from a stretcher to the side of the pool by Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedics. Between them, Muhammad’s Dad, Umhlanga Hospital, Little Fighters’ Cancer Trust, Netcare and uShaka Sea World came together for a special moment in the young man’s life, when Muhammad met a dolphin named Gambit.

uShaka Sea World staff were humbled, honoured and grateful to have played a small part in making Muhammad’s dream come true. We hope that he continues his fight without pain or anxiety – and send love and support to his parents, the LFCT volunteers and the doctors and nurses at St George's Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

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