Pretoria teen has ‘severe brain damage’ – but parents stay hopeful

2019-07-05 17:30
Giovanni Hendricks. (Photo: Supplied)

Giovanni Hendricks. (Photo: Supplied)

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He’s been confined to a hospital bed for months, not knowing whether he’ll ever step outside again. In late June he came close to death – and now he’s received further devastating news: He has severe brain damage.

For the parents of 18-year-old Giovanni Hendricks, who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome earlier this year, the latest news is just another setback in their son’s long journey to recovery – after all they believe he’ll be in good health once again.

“We’re not in a state, or broken. God is more powerful than these things – and we know Giovani is going to recover fully,” the teen’s mom, Elize (39), told YOU on Wednesday, speaking from Kalafong Hospital west of Pretoria.

In March, Giovanni touched people’s hearts when he landed in hospital unexpectedly. On February 25 he’d complained about a scratchy throat just before losing all sensation in his limbs. He couldn’t talk or swallow anymore and even lost the use of his eyelids.

In hospital he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. This condition – which attacks the nervous system – has kept the young man in hospital ever since.

Elize and Giani (47), his dad, have had to cross many hurdles in this time.

“It wasn’t easy – I wouldn’t say so. But throughout it all we kept believing. On 23 June we were on the verge of coming home with him. The respirator had been taken off and he was out of high care. But that day his heart just stopped beating – the doctors had to battle for nearly an hour to bring him around,” Elize tells us.

“It was very upsetting, of course. Moments before, Giovanni was still joking with us, telling us a joke about his hospital pal who shares the room with him. The next moment he was in a struggle for his life.”

Giovanni Hendricks

After that incident Giovanni was returned to the high care unit. Currently doctors aren’t optimistic about his prospects of recovery.

“Giving us the brain damage diagnosis this morning, some of the doctors looked very upset. I started crying – not because I felt broken-hearted but because they were sad.

“I don’t think God would’ve brought our son back to life after he hadn’t registered a heartbeat for an hour, and then just come and take him again.

“Giovanni has an important witness to share; he’s still going to touch many hearts.”

The Hendricks are unclear about what the future holds and are meeting the medical team to discuss the way forward.

Giovanni Hendricks

But by that time, Elize is adamant, Giovanni’s condition would’ve already improved.

 “So far our son has kept surprising everyone; it’s not going to stop now.

“While talking to him this week I asked him to blink his eyes for ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and he could do that.

“We keep praying and believe with all our hearts that his condition will reverse – and then everybody will be amazed again.”

Pictures: Supplied

Read more on:    pretoria  |  health

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