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Family's bid to raise cash for treatment

By Katy Karayiannis

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Hanne Hofmann with partner Achmed Abmann. An appeal is under way to get her potentially life-saving treatment. PHOTO/KATY KARAYIANNIS
Hanne Hofmann with partner Achmed Abmann. An appeal is under way to get her potentially life-saving treatment. PHOTO/KATY KARAYIANNIS

A Waipu family is desperately fundraising for a potentially life-changing treatment for a member recovering from a debilitating stroke.

Just over 18 months ago Hanne Hofmann, 56, suffered a stroke, paralysing her right side and leaving her unable to speak or read.

As a result, the three other members of her family have put their lives on hold to support and rehabilitate the once fit and feisty woman.

Ms Hofmann had been a passionate painter, jewellery maker and perfume creator, but now she struggles to do the simplest tasks, such as putting on her shoes.

She also suffers from severe toning - her muscles are constantly stiff and sore.

Ms Hofmann's partner Achmed Abmann, who no longer works so he can help care for her, said it had changed the family's life.

"She can't talk. It's hard because she can't express herself," he said.

Ms Hofmann's daughter, Tui Hofmann, who took a year off midway through her university degree to be with her mum, says the possibility of treatment in the US is giving her family much-needed hope.

"After 20 months and no real gain ... something like this just gives us a huge amount of hope."

After speaking to Dr Edward Tobinick from the US Institute of Neurological Recovery, the family is confident the treatment could improve Ms Hofmann's life.

"The more we researched it and had an interview with the doctor, the more they thought it's ideal for mum, given that she had such a severe stroke," Tui said.

The drug involved, called Etanercept, is still in research stages, but early findings suggest 80 per cent of US recipients have some form of improvement. It's used in New Zealand to treat only arthritis, so Pharmac is unable to comment on its effectiveness for stroke victims.

Despite the risk of adverse effects, Mr Abmann is positive.

"We want to be optimistic, we understand the risks, but it's important to give it a try," he said.

It is estimated the family will need to raise $30,000 for the treatment, as one injection costs US$6000 ($7000) and the family hopes Ms Hofmann can receive more than one.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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