After a TV set nearly crushed her skull four years ago Cianliné van der Westhuizen was unable to smile. When she was excited and wanted to show it the right corner of her mouth would lift ever so slightly. The left side was completely paralysed.
But things have changed for the brave little five-year-old of Brits in North West. When she smiles it’s from ear to ear, thanks to an operation in which a muscle and nerve were transplanted from her leg into her cheek.
Doctors feared she wouldn’t survive the freak accident in June 2008. Later they thought her left arm would be paralysed and that she might be blind in her left eye and deaf in her left ear and would walk with a limp.
But just look at her now, says her proud mom, Monica (32). Cianliné, who’s in Grade R, is not only full of smiles, she’s also a budding athlete – she recently won two silver medals at school athletics meetings.
“Look at my medals; have you photographed them?” she asks enthusiastically. It’s difficult to believe she’s the same little girl who nearly died four years ago.
Read more of Alet van Zyl’s article in YOU 14 February 2013.