Trust fund for Shaninlea (34) after tragic illness

2017-06-07 06:02
Shaninlea Visser.                                          Photo:SUPPLIED

Shaninlea Visser. Photo:SUPPLIED

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“I DON’T know that I would have survived what she did. She is absolutely the strongest person I know and an inspiration to us all.”

This is how Rob Nicholson describes his niece, Shaninlea Visser (34), affectionately known as ‘Shan’, who was struck by a life-threatening illness which has changed her life dramatically in the space of a few months.

Visser moved from Durban to Port Elizabeth with her 10-year-old daughter, Kiara, in January this year and fell ill soon after.

She was admitted to Life St George’s Hospital on January 18 and, after being moved to the ICU, doctors told her family that she had a 50/50 chance of surviving due to kidney and liver failure. At the time, Visser’s husband, Anthony, was in Pennington and flew down to be with her.

Since being admitted to hospital, she has undergone at least 20 operations.

The first of the procedures took place on February 6 when both her legs were amputated below the knee. Two days later, on February 8, both arms were amputated between the elbow and wrist as well.

Then, on February 17, a plastic surgeon started removing the dead tissue around her lips and removed her nose tip.

Visser was then moved from ICU to High Care before being transferred to Netcare Greenacres Hospital.

At first, no one was certain just what illness she had or what the cause of it was, but it was later discovered that a stomach bug was responsible, which led to septicaemia and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC).

Septicaemia is an infection of the blood which can lead to sepsis if left untreated and DIC is a condition in which blood clots form in the body’s smaller vessels.

“The bacteria got into her bloodstream and caused the blood to move to all the organs and away from her extremities. Her body went into shock,” Nicholson said.

Visser is currently in Aurora Hospital. According to Nicholson, she will probably need two or three more operations.

“There is nothing and no one to blame for this. We just have to look forward now,” he said.

The family’s biggest concern now is raising the funds necessary to pay all the bills.

“Her medical aid is paying most of her medical bills which is fantastic, but she’s going to need a caregiver for the rest of her life and we don’t yet know how she’s going to pay for the prosthetics. Donations would be a huge assistance,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson’s daughter, Tamaryn, added, “Shan will need more physiotherapy and occupational therapy in a rehabilitation facility. Alterations will need to be done to the home that she moves into to help her cope with everyday life.”

In an effort to raise awareness and funds for Visser, Nicholson came to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg on Tuesday, May 30, to share her story with various local radio stations. The family has set up a trust fund in Visser’s name.

“We just want her to live the happiest and most normal life possible after this tragedy,” Tamaryn Nicholson said.

“She is the most positive and strong woman whose story I know will be such an inspiration to others. She already has plans to write a book and do inspirational speeches to turn her situation into a positive one. She deserves all the help she can get.”

Anyone willing to assist Shaninlea Visser can contact Rob Nicholson on 082 574 5324 or


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