Brakpan mom after freak accident: 'Now Karlien needs me'

2019-03-04 19:01
Karlien Roets. (Photo: Supplied)

Karlien Roets. (Photo: Supplied)

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Toddler Karlien Roets (3) was very excited when she spotted the packet of cookie mix among the groceries her mom had bought for their camping trip the following week.

"Karlientjie still asked me: 'Are we going to bake biscuits, Mommy?'" I just told her: "Not now, my darling – we must finish the kitchen first."

Karin Roets (27), an accountant from Dalview in Brakpan, still sounds incredulous about how the Roets family’s lives changed forever on Friday, August 10 when an empty grocery cupboard toppled on her eldest child. At the time they were setting up a new kitchen in another part of their house.

Her husband, Frikkie (30), is the operations manager of the family business where she works, Omega Communications, which sells and services two-way radio technology products. Frikkie wanted to install the new kitchen by himself as far as possible to make it more affordable for the family.

"We were moving the kitchen precisely because I wanted it to be closer to the lounge where I’d be able to keep an eye on Karlien and her six-month-old little sister, Nadine," Karin tells us.

She says on that fateful afternoon her husband was standing poised with the drill and screws to fix the freestanding cupboard to the wall when Karlien attempted to pack away the cookie mix in the cupboard.

Five seconds later her husband screamed to her: "The cupboard’s fallen on Karlien!" The frantic couple immediately lifted the cupboard off the curly-haired little girl.

"Blood was streaming from her nose and ears," Karin says about the moment she saw her child lying motionless. Karlien fell over backwards pulling the cupboard on top of her. Not only did she bang her head hard on the tile floor, the cupboard also smashed her left cheekbone as it crashed down on her.

"We rushed her to the nearest clinic. I only remember the doctors and nurses running out towards us. I just prayed: 'Please Lord, spare my child today'." Doctors managed to save Karlien’s life.

"The doctor told us her condition was very serious. She’d suffered a fracture to her skull. She was transferred to the paediatric high care unit of the Netcare Clinton Hospital on the same night.

"It's hard to believe a cupboard can cause such damage and that an accident can happen so fast, but it did. Freak accidents happen in seconds."

Ten days after the accidents things were looking up. "Karlien was no longer on the ventilator. She could even talk and talk with us."

Karlien Roets

But then they had a huge setback. Karlien suffered two seizures which caused a vein to burst in her brain.

"Her injured brain got hurt before she’d had sufficient time to recover."

Karlien immediately was operated on again. 

After two months in high care, the little girl was eventually transferred to a rehabilitation hospital in Johannesburg on October 16.

But on October 29, two days after Karlien’s third birthday, there was another setback: She developed pressure on the brain.

"She stopped breathing suddenly. [Doctors] had to bring her back to life again. They (again) rushed her to the operating theatre to relieve the pressure on the brain."

Tests later showed there was an infection [in]] her spinal fluid supplying the brain.

"Scans were done and the doctor told us he was sorry, but the news was bad..."

Karin falls silent for a moment then says: "Subsequently the doctor's prognosis for Karlien future hasn’t been positive. We've had no choice but to start to prepare ourselves for the worst."

Karlien had been in a coma for about two months when, as her parents were standing next to her bed one day, she miraculously started moving first her head and then her tiny feet again.

"We'd hoped to bring her home for Christmas but she had to stay in hospital longer. In that time I would play music to her, rub her feet or read to her."

The little girl the family would eventually bring home on January 16 wasn't the live-wire Karlien who’d rummage in a grocery cupboard to bake biscuits or scramble to her dad's side to help him with chores.

The family has also started to battle financially.

They've been informed by their medical aid that payments for Karlien's full-time carer will cease at the end of March.

Karlien is permanently on a ventilator at home.

Also, to improve her quality of life, she needs more services.

At the moment she gets occupational-, physio- and speech therapy. "She responds whenever we're close to her. It shows in her eyes or breathing whether she's awake or sleeping. She especially responds to her dad’s deep voice."

Talking to Karin, it's clear this family will go to any length to support their daughter. The fact that Karlien may never be able-bodied again, isn't something this mom is prepared to entertain. "Where there’s life, there's hope!"

Has she ever been tormented by thoughts of why this calamity had befallen their child?

"I've promised never to ask that question. By asking that question you'll only be landing yourself in a very deep pit. Now Karlien needs me."

Karin says little Nadine adores having her sister back at home, and like Karlien she too is a different child these days. "She’s become a happy baby now... we're all back where we belong again."

For more information visit Karlien Roets’ Facebook page or website

Read more on:    gauteng  |  accident

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