“In my wildest dreams I would never have thought this would happen”
She may have lost her leg in a tragic freak accident, but a courageous little Despatch girl, who has earned the moniker “iron girl”, is determined to dance with her father once again.
Nine-year-old Janecke Schuin and her family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from well-wishers near and far – even from around the world – which has helped ease their pain.
Janecke’s leg was seriously injured when she was pinned against her mother’s car after another motorist crashed into her as she was loading up her guitar on August 23.
“I was parked in Church Street to pick Janecke up from her guitar lesson,” mother Vicki said yesterday. “She walked round the car to put her guitar case in the boot. The next minute I just saw the lights of the other car. Janecke was pinned to my car.”
Janecke’s father, Willie, said: “It was just a terrible accident. There weren’t even brake marks on the road. The lady who hit her really didn’t see her.”
Janecke was admitted to Cuyler Clinic in Uitenhage, where doctors performed surgery to relieve pressure on her badly injured leg. But by last Saturday a scan showed that there was no pulse in her foot.
She was rushed to Greenacres Hospital, where orthopaedic specialists and vascular surgeons desperately tried to save her limb.
By Tuesday, however, her medical team concluded that her leg would have to be amputated.
“I think on Sunday we were still full of hope. We never thought she would lose her leg. Tuesday was a very bad day for us,” Vicki said.
But what was a heartbreaking situation for the active Janecke and her family soon turned into such an outpouring of love and support for the little girl that it took her and her parents completely by surprise.
“In my wildest dreams I would never have thought this would happen,” Vicki said.
After Brian Paddey from the Amputee Support Group shared Janecke’s story on their Facebook page, asking for community support, close to 800 people sent messages of support from all over the world.
One of the messages coined the hashtag for her – #Ystermeisie (iron girl).
“She really is as tough as nails,” Willie said. “At first she was scared of all the needles, now she just holds out her arm.”
And despite her awful accident and its devastating consequences, the feisty Janecke warms hearts with her delightful sense of humour.
“Look,” she says, showing her arm. “I look like a pincushion.”
Janecke’s room is filled with soft toys, balloons, flowers and sweets that she politely offers to her guests.
Janecke has also recovered so well that she was able to start physiotherapy this week and she proudly showed off the new stretches she had learnt.
For now, she is looking forward to getting a wheelchair.
“My Oupa Willie also had a wheelchair because he lost his leg,” she said. “My best friend already offered to push me in the wheelchair. I want to go show my friends at school.”
Paddey said: “I went to that hospital with a broken heart on Tuesday. Today my heart is so full of gratitude for the love shown to this little girl. Be strong, our little darling. God is good.”
Paddey said he had received countless offers of assistance for Janecke – ranging from a tank of petrol for her parents to the services of a physiotherapist.
Apart from visits from a team from Luister FM, Nadine Visser and her fiance Alan Louett, who both lost legs in a motorcycling accident last year, drove from Jeffreys Bay to meet Janecke.
They also offered to organise a prosthetic leg for her through the Ride for a Limb programme.
Monique Maritz, who also lost a leg in a motorcycling accident and now runs a programme bringing guide dogs to comfort patients in hospitals, brought her service dog Fabio to meet Janecke.
“I said to Janecke’s mom God has great plans for her daughter,” Maritz said. “She is a very special child.”
Despatch councillor Francois Greyling said the whole town was in shock over what had happened. “At school she is known for being a joyful and conscientious child. We are all trying to help her.”
For now, Janecke said, she only had plans to get back to the netball court in time for winter next year.
“And I want to dance with my daddy again.”