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PATIENT STORIES

Meet Franciska

Franciska’s life changed forever after a critical accident left her paralysed from the neck down. She was hit by a motor vehicle near her home in Durbanville on a Friday afternoon.

Franciska, who is only eight-years-old, was rushed to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital with severe neck and head injuries. Doctors were worried that these injuries – a broken neck and injured spinal cord – would lead to brain damage but Franciska proved to everyone that she is a strong fighter and pulled through.

However, because of the impact of the motor vehicle accident, Franciska’s lungs were also affected. Soon after the accident she had to have a tracheostomy inserted into her throat to assist her with her breathing. Franciska is now dependent on a life-support ventilator to help her breathe.

After spending some time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Franciska was moved to the E1 ward, which is for cardiology and tracheostomy patients. Her mother, Elizabeth, has completed her training in the Breatheasy programme, which will help her to take care of her daughter when she finally returns home. She has learnt how to clean and replace a tracheostomy as well as handle emergencies.

Franciska is a grade two pupil at The Valley Primary School on Altydgedacht Farm. Because of the accident, she will not be returning to school this year but she will be home schooled by her teacher. The community has been extremely supportive and have made the necessary improvements to accommodate her and her family when she returns home.  A mobilised life support machine will be set up for her at home.

Her parents have insisted that they will take care of her at home with the assistance of a caregiver. They want her to be surrounded by her family and friends. Franciska is the youngest of her four sisters and they are all very fond of her.

It has been a huge adjustment for Franciska’s mother, Elizabeth. She says there have been many moments where she lost hope for her daughter but when she looks at Franciska smiling back at her, she is reminded to be strong for her daughter. Elizabeth says, “She’s one in a million, she doesn’t complain and she’s the strongest little girl I know.”

Franciska’s warm and loving spirit has captured the hearts of everyone who meets her. Franciska knows all the nurses by name and loves singing with them. Although the future seems challenging for Franciska, she has great support in not only her family but the community too.

Franciska is a quadriplegic and the doctors have said that she will never be able to walk again. Her mother however believes that one day Franciska will learn to walk and dance once again.

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