Our little survivor


The four-year-old girl clumsily climbs onto her mother’s lap and hides her face. She’s afraid of the strangers in their Bloemfontein home because after her brain operation last month she thinks all unfamiliar men are doctors who will hurt her, her mom says as she comforts her.

Monica Holtzhausen has coped with a lot in her short life. Her biological parents died soon after her birth, she spent a month alone in a place of safety and this year she was diagnosed with brain-stem cancer.

Suddenly her adoptive parents faced a tough choice: either let her have a dangerous operation and risk the loss of some of her functions or watch her die in a matter of months.

But Monica had overcome previous obstacles and she has done so again. The operation was successful.

“Her entire life until now has been filled with miracles,” says her dad, Hannes Holtzhausen (42).

“Of course it was a huge shock when doctors found a brain tumour on 27 May. They said she had only three to six months to live if it wasn’t removed,” mom Martie (39) says.

Doctors outlined a detailed scenario for the family and it was terrifying. “They scared us to death,” says Hannes, who’s a technician for Telkom.

But then Martie said, “Professor, that’s what you say but it isn’t what God says. We’re operating.”

Monica’s life began with tragedy. She was born on 3 April 2006 at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein. Her father was walking to the hospital to visit her and her mother, Rachel du Toit (37), when he was attacked and stabbed to death. By tragic coincidence Rachel died later that day of birth complications.

Meanwhile, across the city in Hospital Park, an odd idea took hold in the mind of housewife Martie. She and Hannes already had four daughters aged between 10 and 18 but suddenly she was convinced they should adopt a baby.

She and Rachel were distantly related but didn’t see one another socially, Martie says. It was like a message from above. “I felt God was speaking directly to me. I told Hannes we needed to find that child and adopt her.”

They headed straight to the hospital and were referred to a social worker who explained the procedure and said Monica would first have to be housed at a place of safety. A month later they brought her home.

“To think four months ago they said she wouldn’t survive . . .” Hannes says softly as Monica crawls into his lap. “But in our thoughts there was never a limit on her life.”

“That’s why we say she’s a miracle child,” Martie says. “She’s had to overcome one obstacle after another from the moment she was born.”

Read the full article in the YOU of 26 August 2010

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