Paralyzed girl takes first steps after 15 years in a wheelchair
Like most other 17-year-olds, Sofya Babich from Togliatti, Russia, enjoys posting selfies, photos, and status updates on social networks. She loves to put on makeup and style her hair and when you see photos of her with her bright, shining eyes, it's hard to believe that she has been suffering from severe pain for the past 15 years.
Shortly after birth, Sofya was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and doctors told her parents that she would have to learn to accept that she would never be able to walk. Cerebral palsy causes a variety of symptoms including spastic paralysis and seizures.
Sofya underwent surgery six times but nothing seemed to help and she remained paralyzed from the waist down. To make matters worse, the expensive operations were a huge financial strain on the family and left them living in a one-room apartment that wasn't even wheelchair accessible — Sofya couldn't even use the bathroom.
But despite all of this — and to everyone's surprise — Sofya remained a happy girl full of dreams and aspirations. She loved listening to music, writing poetry, and singing. Thanks to her beautiful voice she won several national and international talent competitions.
Sofya was beating the odds, but her biggest dream still seemed unachievable: more than anything else, she simply wanted to walk. In 2015 she entered as a contestant on the TV show "Direct Line" where contestants get the chance to speak to the Russian president. When it was Sofya's turn she had only one thing to say to the President: "I really, really want to walk. I try my best but I need special training equipment. We can't afford it. It costs 20,000 rubles (around $300)."
Sofya's participation in the TV show made her something of a celebrity. Soon the offers were pouring in and a few days later she had the training equipment she had wished for. She also attracted the interest of some sponsors who paid for her to receive treatment in Germany.
A few weeks later Sofya was sent to the Asklepios Hospital in Hamburg. A series of tests revealed that Sofya actually didn't need any more surgery as was assumed by the doctors in Russia. Instead, the doctors in Germany started her on a course of treatment involving medication. As it turned out, Sofya suffered from a rare and different form of cerebral palsy that could have been eradicated much earlier if she had received the right medication. She had spent her entire childhood confined to wheelchair all because of a misdiagnosis.
But now she was finally receiving the treatment she needed. After only three days in the hospital Sofya wanted to try taking her first steps. Her mother had just returned from the cafeteria with some coffee for the both of them and was stunned when she entered Sofya's room. "I wanted it so badly," recalls Sofya, "I stood up and took a step." Her mother could hardly believe her eyes.
This video was made a few weeks after Sofya took that first step. After 15 years in a wheelchair she could finally walk on her own again. Her mother recalled how the doctors themselves couldn't believe it: "That's fantastic! Magical," said one doctor when he witnessed Sofya's progress.
Today Sofya is back at home and doing better than ever. She is slowly taking back control of her own body and savors every single step she takes. Her singing career is also going very well — during one performance she left the audience cheering and in tears as she got up from her wheelchair and walked across the stage.
It's something that most of us take for granted, but for Sofya the ability to walk came only after years of pain and struggle and she still has a long way to go. Yet this brave girl has proved with every step just how strong and determined she is and all that's left now is to keep on going.