Friends of the Children's Hospital Association (FOCHA) Help's Patient to Breathe Easy
Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital patient, Daurelle Crotz, of Bellville, can breathe easy once more, thanks to a R80 000 donation by the pupils of Springfield Convent School in Wynberg to the Friends of the Children's Hospital Association (FOCHA).
Daurelle, twelve (12), has a condition which results in only half of her diaphragm working. She has been using a ventilator, which breathes for her through a tracheostomy - a hole in her throat, since she was four years old. She tired easily at school and needed a second ventilator to reduce the wear and tear travelling could have caused on the expensive machine.
With the help of FOCHA, a volunteer organisation within the hospital, she managed to get a real second-hand machine, said Sr Jane Booth, the sister in charge of Ward E1, where Daurelle is a patient. Ward E1 clinicians and Sr Booth researched the available and suitable ventilators.
The ventilator is basically life support, so it needs to be very carefully thought through and researched before the correct one is allocated to a particular person according to their diagnosis, Sr Booth said.
FOCHA, through their BreathEasy Fund, which was started in 1989, bought the ventilator for Daurelle.
Ventilators have a limited life-span and need to be replaced about every five years. The very old machine that Daurelle was using at school broke down this year and needed to be replaced urgently.
At the beginning of June the Friends received a donation of R80 000 from Springfield Convent School. Springfield chose to buy a new ventilator for Daurelle. The R30 000 change was put towards buying a ventilator for another patient, Zusakhe Phangiso of Mfuleni.
This assistance from FOCHA is not the first to benefit the patients in Ward E1 - or in the rest of the hospital. Sr Booth explains that many of the patients who have tracheostomies live in conditions of poverty and the extra effort and cost of caring for a very sick child can be overwhelming.
There is no infrastructure in the community to support this high risk condition. We rely on mothers to learn to care for their own children at home. The mothers become their own child's nurse, Sr Booth said. The anxiety level is very high because the baby is really sick and the mothers often don't have enough clothing, blankets, prams or even toiletries.
This is where the assistance of FOCHA is crucial. They are one of the recipients of donations for patients in the hospital and they provide things like toiletries, blankets, food, prams, equipment, prostheses and moral support for patients, their parents and staff.
The FOCHA are like the people I can't live without, Sr Booth said.
Western Cape Department of Health