“Your child has collapsed”
Posted on 9 April 2021
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A call from the school to say your child has collapsed and is not breathing. That’s what happened to Jean and Bianca Victor in January 2020 – and what followed has been nothing short of miraculous.
“We were both at work about 20km away from our son Jeandre’s school,” Jean Victor recalls. “After getting the call, my wife Bianca and I raced there. We found ambulances and ER24 vehicles already at the scene, but we weren’t allowed in to see him. That was the worst. No one could give us a straight answer about what was happening. I can never explain that feeling of fear, sadness and madness. Everything runs through your mind. It was chaos.”
Teachers reassured the frantic couple that paramedics were doing everything they could to help their two-and-a-half-year old son. ER24 has been a subsidiary of Mediclinic since 1999 and now has 59 branches across the country. Paramedics are primed and ready to respond to a huge variety of calls – from accidents to medical trauma. This means the Mediclinic continuum of care begins in the pre-hospital setting, ensuring they can administer expert emergency care fast and efficiently.
“We took less than a minute to get to the scene,” says Anrich Venter, ER24 Advanced Life Support Paramedic at Mediclinic Bloemfontein. “A teacher was already doing bystander CPR, so we immediately took over and called for backup and extra hands for further resuscitation.”
The team continued CPR, using the automated external defibrillator (AED) no less than nine times in an attempt to restore a normal heart rhythm. “It was intense because recurrent ventricular fibrillation [when the heart beats in an abnormal rhythm] is uncommon in a child that young,” Venter explains. “We established IV lines, administered appropriate medication, ventilated him and maintained advanced airways while transporting him to hospital in the ambulance.”
Jeandre spent 83 days in ICU at Mediclinic Bloemfontein and the Victor family have nothing but praise for the dedicated medical expertise he received. “When doctors explained he had extensive brain damage, we cried,” Bianca recalls. “But we also knew that although we had a long road ahead of us, we would pull through and would stay positive.”
One year later, the family is still going strong. “It was tough when he first came out of hospital because we had very little sleep and needed to feed him with a tube. But now we are seeing progress,” Jean says. He’s laughing, he can understand things, he’s moving forward every month. We believe he’ll be independent in the future and will be able to lead a quality life.”
The Victors view the Mediclinic team that surround their young son as family. “From the doctors to the speech therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, we get the most unbelievable support,” Bianca says. “And Jeandre is doing so well. He has to relearn everything. He had no movement in hospital but now he can roll over. He’s able to stand on his feet and doctors have explained that he’s able to see light – so we’re concentrating on eye exercises too. He can’t speak, but we know he will make progress.’
“To my mind, this is just a speed bump,” says Jean. “The old Jeandre is still there. Although he can’t speak or play like he used to, he’s still there. He just needs more attention. We knew it was going to be difficult. But we made the decision to pull through as a family.”
Bianca agrees. “He’s still the same child. He’s still stubborn. We can see a lot of his personality coming through again. We continue to have hope and faith.”