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Meet Soyama

There is nothing more devastating for a mother than receiving a phone call to tell her that her child has been in an accident and has been rushed to hospital.

Yet this is what five-year-old Soyama’s mother had to face during the June fires in Knysna earlier this year. Soyama was innocently playing on the merry-go-round with his friends at the park when a rope caught around his neck. As the children spun, Soyama found himself choked by the rope and unable to get the attention of his friends.

A family friend who was nearby realised what was happening and called out to him. As she got closer to the merry-go-round, she managed to stop the children from spinning and cut the rope from Soyama’s neck. She immediately called for an ambulance and then phoned his father. Nandipha, Soyama’s mother, was shocked to hear of the accident when her husband phoned her.

Soyama was taken to a temporary hospital, with the town in crisis-mode due to the fires. Later, he was taken to George Hospital where he was treated and discharged. But a few days later, Nandipha noticed that her little boy was not feeling very well. She took him back to George Hospital, where he was referred to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Soyama was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with difficulty breathing. Doctors discovered that he was suffering from smoke inhalation from the fires in Knysna. He needed to have a tracheostomy inserted into his throat and spent a week in ICU, where he was weaned off a ventilator. For Nandipha, it was frightening to watch her little boy unable to breathe without the help of machines. It was even more heart-breaking when Soyama had to undergo a second operation because the hole of the windpipe for the tracheostomy tube was too small.

But after the operation, Soyama began to recover quickly. A speaking valve was placed on his tracheostomy also received also speech therapy. He is able to talk to his mother now and breathe without any difficulty.

For Nandipha, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions but she is so relieved that her son has recovered so well.

She says, “I had to think very positively and believe that my son was going to be okay and get through it all.”

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