Kiara is only two-years-old, but she has already had to fight to stay alive. Due to Viral Pneumonia she stopped breathing when she was three months old. She was rushed from Somerset Hospital to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, where she spent 172 days in the paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This severe lung infection has resulted in her having residual Chronic Lung Disease. The doctors and nurses at the Hospital did not think her tiny body would cope with the disease, but they made sure that she could breathe and swallow by giving her oxygen as well as a tracheostomy and gastrostomy.
Kiara became part of the Breatheasy Programme, run by Sister Jane Booth, and was moved into the E1 Ward of the Hospital after ICU. A few weeks later she was weaned off the ventilator and her tracheostomy was removed and she was able to go home without needing breathing assistance – a day that many did not think would come.
In December 2015, Kiara was struggling to breathe and was suffering from Viral Croup cough while at home with her family. She returned to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where she once again needed the assistance of a tracheostomy. Her mom, Siphathisiwe, says, “I was very worried about her but the nurses are very good and helpful.”
Sister Booth says that it’s the team behind the Breatheasy Programme that ensure patients like Kiara recover and are given the best possible chance at a childhood.
After a month at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Kiara was well enough to return home with her mom. While she still needs a gastrostomy to help her feeding and the tracheostomy until the swelling from the croup subsides, she is running around like a playful, energetic and healthy child. Her granny is coming to look after her while her mom works.