This, is a brief summary of what happened to our little Cayley and why she needs on going intensive rehabilitation.
There aren't many people who are able to say they survived despite being without oxygen or a heartbeat for 40 minutes, but by the grace of God my five-year-old granddaughter is one of them.
My name is Charmaine Habelgaarn and I would like to share my family's story with you in the hope that you might be able to assist me with getting some items that will help make everyday life a little easier for our miracle child Cayley.
On the morning of 17 December 2013 my husband and daughter found Cayley at the bottom of our swimming pool after she slipped and fell in, while trying to fill a bucket with water. My husband jumped in the pool to rescue her and then her mom (who is a fourth year physiotherapy student) performed CPR.
My daughter was unable to resuscitate Cayley at home and because emergency services were taking too long my daughter and husband rushed her to the hospital, about 10 minutes from our home.
At the hospital doctors struggled to get her heart beating again and were ready to call time of death when a cardiologist happened to walk into the emergency room and insisted they try again.
After almost 40 minutes without oxygen or a heartbeat doctors were able to resuscitate her before moving her to the ICU. For 72 hours doctors kept her body frozen to prevent futher degeneration of her organs and to prevent further swelling of the brain. After three days has past, they slowly started reheating her body. She spent a week intubated in ICU and when she woke up she presented as a spastic quadriplegic, due to the irritation and injury to the brain.
She went into spasms and was unaware of what was going on around her. She couldn't walk, talk or eat. Doctors had little hope for a recovery and after almost two months in hospital she was moved to the Western Province Rehabilitation Centre, where she received acute intensive rehabilitation.
She celebrated her fourth birthday on 26 February 2014 and that was the first time she was allowed home since the accident. We held a huge party for her which was absolutely special for us, even though she was only there for a few hours.
The next day she started responding to people walking into her room by tracing them with her eyes and graced us with a smile and laughter. Over the next few months her memory slowly started returning and she learned how to eat, talk and move. Doctors and therapists are amazed at her recovery (even those who said she would never recover).
We have tried various theraputic methods which includes animal assisted therapy and have seen good results, but unfortunately our funds are exhausted and it is becoming financially more challenging to ensure she receives enough therapy.
She no longer spasms, she eats orally, she talks but softly and slowly, she is in a wheelchair and she struggles with fine motor skills and co-ordination.
Her mother is currently working on a contract basis at Eros School for Cerebral Palsy and Learning Disabled Children and lives at home, so we assist financially. It is my wish that you will be able to assist in which ever way possible in order to help Cayley receive , the therapy or assistive device she requires to reach her highest level of function.
Cayley requires speech-, occupational-, equine-, hydro and physiotherapy..
Four years ago on her birthday she wasn't aware of anything around her. Today she is back to being her old self, despite the physical challenges. Currently she is in Grade 1 attending Paarl School for differently abled learners.
She is a bubbly, vibrant and happy child. She is very smart and always shows so much determination. This little fighter turned eight on the 26 February and it is our plea that you will be able to assist with making life a little easier for her.