Friday, 5 March 2010
“He wasn’t fed for seven straight days…’
BLOEMFONTEIN. A South African woman has launched a fund-raiser for the survival of her son’s empoverished best friend, Jaco Steenbergen – left semi-comatose after he was struck by a bolt of high-voltage electricity in November 2009. With proper care he could recover within 18 months. The appeal also reveals a shocking story of terrible neglect by the state-run Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein.
The care of this comatose patient was so poor that four months later the semi-comatose youth was released from hospital in a shockingly emaciated state and with infected bedsores. Moreover he has to survive like this while living in a two-roomed shed on a subsistence-smallholding with his working-class parents who earn their income from making door- and window-frames. Yet with the proper care and enough food he could recover within 18 months.
the youth’s friend’s mother Bernadine Coetzee writes us that “Jaco was a shy, kind, so humble, very handsome and loving 20 year old Christian boy, until tragedy struck. Due the recession, his well-known parents of Bloemfontein, went through financial difficulties and lost their furniture business, their home, their own furniture and vehicles. They also lost all their policies, insurance and medical aid. A friend offered them to live in a shed on a plot in Bloemfontein.
Jaco’s father became very ill with a very deep depression and Jaco and his mother worked hard at wooden frames and handy-man jobs to make a living. They converted a part of the shed into 2 rooms where they now live.
On a day in November 2009, Jaco was electrocuted by a high voltage 3 phase electrical installation whilst trying to close the big shed door where he and his parents live.
Jaco was dead for 10 minutes, but revived by Rosa Park Hospital on arrival. Rosa Park Hospital stabilised Jaco, but declared him in a coma with swelling of the brain. The bill for the first three days in the trauma high care unit at Rosa Park hospital was R50,000, and a family member obtained funds to pay this. However when the funds ran out, the youth was transferred to the public Pelonomi Hospital, also in Bloemfontein for the next 4 months. A terrifying tale of neglect ensued – with hospital staff neglecting to feed the Afrikaner youth through the tubing directly to his stomach: at one stage he hadn’t been fed for days… writes Ms Coetzee.
“The nursing staff also neglected to clean and unblock a pipe that was inserted into his anal canal, and here a 15cm hole was burnt inside his anus due to leaking stomach acids. Jaco had to undergo an operation for this infection.”
“ The nursing staff were instructed to turn Jaco into different positions to avoid bed sores, and this too was neglected to be done. Jaco’s bed sores were so bad, that his hip bone protruded through his skin, and his back had huge bed sores as well. The hole in his throat where he had a heart & lung machine connected, was supposed to be sucked out at intervals, but this was also not done. Jaco’s parents, at all times did this themselves: taking the suction tubes, and sucked the mucus out the hole themselves, as Jaco would breath with difficulty until this had been done.
Started breathing on his own a week ago
Jaco started to breathe on his own a week ago, and is now in a semi-coma, but they have determined brain damage.
Feeding costs R150 a day – which the family does not have…
“Jaco was sent home to the shed three days ago, and this family desperately needs help. Jaco must still be fed through tubes that are directly inserted into his stomach. The feeding into the tubes cost R150 per day, which the family does not have. He must be re-positioned every 2 hours as his bed sores have not yet healed. He must desperately start with physiotherapy as his muscles are all pulling stiff into spasms, but there are no funds.
“It only takes one act of kindness per person in this world to make a difference. Jaco’s dream was to become a carpenter, and when asked why, he would very proudly say ‘because Jesus was a carpenter, and look what he accomplished in his life’.
My daughter, Michelle, my son Duane and myself, have established a non-profit organisation called, Blue Butterfly Foundation, to assist this family with proper medical care for Jaco. The specialists have determined that, with the proper medical care, Jaco could reach very close to normal within 18 mths – 3 years. There is a private hospital that specialises in his type of required medical care, but this will cost R96,000 per month.
Do you have any suggestions or ideas, what so ever, that could help us with raising funds ?
We have registered the foundation, but have not yet received the NPO nr. We have plans for various fund raising events which include, Golf competitions, fashion shows, radio advertising, and then my youngest, Charne, has formed a Face-book group. If you would prefer to make a donation, all donations can be paid to Standard Bank Acc No 375 382 534 (Savings acc), Branch No. 023910. Please use your cell number as reference as we would like to thank you personally as well as keep you updated on his progress.
For any further information, you can contact me, Bernadine Coetzee, at 072 677 5711 or
Michelle Nienaber 084 297 2719 or
Duane Nienaber 079 492 7638
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