Cynthia Lakay had TB of the spine and was a patient at St Joseph’s Hospital from 2001 to 2002.  Today she leads an independent life and continues her business administration studies. 

“St Joseph’s Home taught me to be independent and I live in my own flat. I have learnt life skills and have even learnt to speak Afrikaans. They gave me hope” says Cynthia

On 23 March 2013 she gave birth to her son, Angelo. Little did she know, that a disaster awaited her.  He son Angelo was involved in a freak accident and was admitted to Red Cross Children’s Hospital and later referred to St Joseph’s.

He was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, after minor trauma to his spine. Transverse myelitis is a condition in which a section of the spinal cord becomes inflamed. During an inflammatory response the myelin, or protective fatty coating on nerve cells, is damaged or destroyed, resulting in weakness or paralysis, pain, and sensory dysfunction. Autonomic, or involuntary activities such as breathing, digestion, heartbeat and reflexes can also be affected. Part of Angelo’s thoracic spine (middle of the spinal cord), has been affected. This has resulted in paralysis of part of his trunk and legs, slight weakness in his upper limbs and has affected his bowel and bladder function. On admission he was unable to sit without support and arrived in a buggy, which provided maximum support.

He received regular Physiotherapy and OT to address his areas of weakness. His balance while sitting improved and he progressed to a self-propelling wheelchair. During this time, he attended the St Joseph’s Special School on the premises.

“While at St Joseph’s Angelo was so special and a charismatic and charming young man who was always motivated to get better. His positive energy was contagious and is definitely his biggest asset in overcoming his physical limitations” said occupational therapist, Asgeree Dalvie.

He improved and was able to sit at a table, and engage in fine motor activities. He was then discharged and moved back to his mother’s house.