This young girl survives the fire and finds healing and love

Read a story of hope… shared on Mandela Day.

A young barely recognizable little girl arrived  at St Joseph’s Intermediate paediatric facility on 13 January 2017 after sustaining extensive burns across her body and predominantly to her arms and face.

Her name, Lee-Hansay. She had a history of cardiac defects, foetal alcohol syndrome and complex social issues. Lee-Hansay was unable to speak or eat and refused any food as a result of long-term nasogastric feeding. Her case was so extreme that she even struggled to tolerate food touching her. St Joseph’s began a joint therapy program with occupational and speech.

The turn-around began and Lee-Hansay started to tolerate certain food orally. She was also encouraged to try and eat and drink by herself. Many problems had to be overcome but even drinking liquids was problematic because when she swallowed it would go into her lungs.

Therapy continued and it took months for Lee-Hansay to be able to eat a full bowl of porridge or puree. She is a brave and courageous girl and she later insisted on eating the full ward diet of rice, meat and vegetables.  Although she continued the battle with liquids, she managed small sips of water, via a spoon and showed improvement in her swallowing coordination.

The battle to get Lee-Hansay off nasogastric tube feeding continued, and the therapists persisted with treatment. She continued therapy to encourage speech and language development and showed drastic improvement, far beyond what would be expected of a little girl who has been through so much trauma.

After months of speech therapy Lee-Hansay was able to understand what others said to her and she could follow simple instructions. She was soon able to imitate words and could use basic words spontaneously. Her favorite was to try to join the other children in the sing-alongs.

St Joseph’s worked together with Red Cross Children’s Hospital (RCCH) which is in possession of a state- of- the-art laser machine which reduces the appearance of scars. After a course of six sessions it produced quick visible results. As a beneficiary of the Phoenix Foundation, Lee- Hansay also had some laser surgery which helped flatten the scars on her face.

Lee-Hansay is a delightful child and her courage and perseverance brought hope and joy to everyone at St Joseph’s.  In just less than a year everyone said their goodbyes to Lee-Hansay.  She left in the loving arms of a single mom in George and is blossoming! That’s the two of them in the featured image,.

This story is  shared by Michaela Purchase– speech therapist at SJH. Please feel free to share on Social Media in support of the work we do.


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