Disabled three-year-old dies at crèche

Careen and Ryan. (PHOTO: Facebook)
Careen and Ryan. (PHOTO: Facebook)

It’s the phone call no parent wants to get. Just like every other day, you drop off your little one at crèche, but that afternoon you get a call to come to hospital – your child is dying.

That’s what happened to Martin (26) and Careen Els (27) from Middelburg in Mpumalanga. Their little boy, Ryan (3), who had cerebral palsy, was in the care of Clever Kidz

On 30 September Careen got a call from the crèche saying she needed to rush to Life Midmed Hospital because Ryan was having trouble breathing. 

“I was at work,” Martin tells YOU. “Our baby girl was born recently and Careen is home on maternity leave.

“She was hysterical when she called me, telling me to fetch her – there’s something wrong with Ryan.”

When the couple arrived at the hospital, doctors were struggling to revive an unconscious Ryan. 

The little boy was declared dead after 37 minutes.

Careen and Ryan. (PHOTO: Facebook)

“We’re unsure what happened,” says Martin, a technician in the mining industry.

“As we understand it, the kids had finished their lunch and Ryan had been laid down for his nap.

“He developed breathing problems and the teacher found him blue in the face.”

Martin insists this explanation doesn’t make sense to him. 

“The teacher had apparently gone to put a mattress away. She was gone for only 30 seconds when Ryan stopped breathing.

“I think he must’ve choked on his food.”

The family are at a loss. “With a child like Ryan, you sacrifice a lot of your time. Suddenly, that routine is just gone and you have time on your hands you don’t know how to fill.”

Careen and Ryan. (PHOTO: Facebook)

An autopsy and police investigation will determine the cause of Ryan’s death.

Susan du Plessis, headmistress at Clever Kidz, says Ryan’s death has been a great shock to everyone at the school.

“We were all crazy about him and his teacher is receiving counselling.

“Ryan often had spells where he’d stop breathing for a few seconds. There was no vomit on the pillow [where he’d been lying when he stopped breathing].”

She says the moment they realised Ryan had stopped breathing, one of the teachers performed CPR.

“My son sped Ryan to hospital but it was too late.

“His death has shocked us all. He loved his school and we’ll miss him terribly.”

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