Marilize and Lourens Bester were forced to make an impossible decision during Marilize’s pregnancy 10 years ago.
Marilize, from Kroonstad in the Free State, has Hellp Syndrome which caused liver failure – so doctors said it was either her or the baby and they induced labour. But instead of a stillborn, little Loukie was born alive.
Weighing just 780 grams and measuring 29 cm, Loukie spent the next 186 days in ICU.
Unfortunately, Loukie's been plagued with health problems all his life.
“Loukie today is 10 years old and through the years he has been diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. We were told that he'd never be able to sit or walk on his own or even eat by himself,” recalls Marilize, who owns a food business.
But this all changed a few months ago when Loukie went for surgery to have the Achilles tendon in his left leg removed to flatten his left foot. This was followed by bio-kinetic sessions and rehabilitation to help him strengthen his muscles and increase his balance.
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“Last month I was home alone with my eldest son and Loukie and out of the blue he got up and started walking without any assistance,” says Marilize with glee.
“He can now take ten to fifteen paces without holding on to anything, and it’s been so unreal and overwhelming. It’s unusual to see him walk and we just give all glory to God.”
Marilize, who's also mom to a 12-year-old took to Facebook where she posted the remarkable video of her son walking for the first time in ten years – a moment that she says was never planned or expected, but one that happened when it was meant to.
“With everything, we’d always taken things one step at a time. We never planned weekends away or holidays because we never knew what could happen and now this has happened,” she says.
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“But through it all we loved Loukie, and still do. He was never treated any differently. He'd also get shouted at or get hidings like his brother.”
Loukie’s vocabulary has also increased since he was taken off his epilepsy medication in January this year and he hasn’t had a seizure since.
Marilize says that in time he's set to have hip reconstructive surgery to have an internal prosthesis implanted, but they are still waiting for the funds as their medical aid won't cover it.
“We are hoping to send him to school one day too, so that he can be with all the other children. We are all just speechless and grateful. All of this is only by God’s grace,” she says.