Christene was born with a congenital muscle weakness. She started to experience poor sleep at night, resulting in her feeling drowsy during the day, headaches and could not concentrate at school. The quality of her days were deteriorating because of this. After being treated in the private medical sector for almost 10 years, she was referred to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for assessment.
After being seen by a Pulmonologist, a sleep study further revealed that Christene was not getting sufficient oxygen during sleep, leaving her breathless and waking up frequently at night. The solution was to be connected to a ventilator which would breathe both for her whilst asleep. Her symptoms were alleviated within a few days. Her parents now faced a difficult dilemma. They could not afford to purchase the very expensive ventilator, and their private medical aid refused to pay for one. Desperate for the life support Christene required, they felt helpless.
Fortunately, the Children’s Hospital Trust fundraises for the Breatheasy Programme at the Hospital. This programme provides equipment to children who require tracheostomies (breathing devices) and home ventilation, enabling them to go home and live ‘normal’ lives. When Christene’s parents found out that she would receive a ventilator at no cost to them, they were literally speechless. Christene’s father Michael was overcome with emotion and had to call the hospital back once this good news had digested.
Christene’s mom Juanita says of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, “This is the best hospital we have ever been to. The staff and treatment we experienced were amazing. For the first time in 10 years, I feel safe.” Christene is coming to terms with the reality that she will require a ventilator at night for the rest of her life, but appreciates that she still has her freedom to move about daily without it. Her mother Juanita is also able to get a lot more sleep at night too!
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