Reinfeld's Vanessa Popp was a quiet and sleepy baby but started talking at one year. She is a very active girl and loves her two brothers. She likes to create things using Play-Doh. Her mom, Lydia said she is kind of shy with strangers but once she gets comfortable with someone, she is quite a talker and loves to tell stories. 

Here is her story. 

Almost seven years ago, Vanessa came into the world 10 weeks prematurely, with the first weeks of her life spent in Winnipeg in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

Lydia explained what happened from there.              

"We spent six weeks in Winnipeg where Vanessa was in the NICU and she was doing great, except she had two bleeds in her brain. At the beginning she was not showing anything wrong with her, so we kind of hoped everything was ok, but we realized she's a little bit behind with her development when she was around 1 year old."  

Vanessa's tiny hand in the NICUVanessa's tiny hand in the NICU

At the age of two it was determined, Vanessa had Cerebral Palsy which affected the lower half of her body.  

In 2020, Vanessa was referred to a project happening in Manitoba to do surgery that would improve her quality of life and provide her more mobility. When the pandemic shut down surgeries, hopes of helping her were dashed. Lydia said since then, they have been applying for help across Canada but the line for surgery was long in other provinces, until now. 

Vanessa doesn't have any other developmental delays other than her mobility. This has qualified for surgery in Vancouver Children's Hospital scheduled for April 30th. With weeks of rehabilitation scheduled 6 weeks in BC and more back home here in Manitoba, once a week in Winnipeg and twice at BTHC.  

According to Lydia, the surgery will be performed on her spinal cord to cut the nerves connected to her lower body. 

"Her legs will not be tense anymore. She will not have pain and she will not be tiring as easily as she is now. The specificity that holds her right now will be gone and she will need to learn how to use her body in a different way. That's why this therapy is so long. It's such a long process. The expectation is to be just like at least one level up."  

Smiling Vanessa with a walker

Adding, "She is using a walker right now and a stroller for mobility. After the whole rehabilitation process, the expectation is she should be able to walk for shorter distances without assistance, or maybe just using a cane." 

This will enable Vanessa to move more freely at home and at school.    

"This kind of surgery and rehabilitation really depends on the patient, how good the rehabilitation goes, how hard the patient is working on the rehabilitation. Vanessa, she's already preparing. She's already working on building up her muscles. She is eager. It feels like she's really prepared for the physiotherapy after. I really have big hopes about the results." 

Vanessa with a painted face and her mom Lydia

Lydia will be taking time off work to be with Vanessa in Vancouver and also for the time she will be in rehabilitation when she gets back home, until she is able to go back to school, when her physiotherapy will be coordinated there.  

Over halfway to the GoFundMe goal, Lydia said it's amazing to be receiving the messages from people who she doesn't know very well who have offered to help. The family moved to Canada in 2012 and doesn't have any other family support here. She said it's overwhelming but feels so good. 

Vanessa looking over her sunglasses.