Reader Profile - Triumph over tragedy
On the 17th of June 2011, Tania van Twisk was involved in a horrific motor vehicle accident. This young women’s life was dramatically changed forever. Her story is one of courage and defying death against all odds.
Tania (aged 25 at that time) was a passenger on the back seat of a Toyota Fortuner when the driver lost control over the vehicle on a dirt road. It rolled seven times and Tania was flung out of the vehicle. Looking at her serious injuries, it seems plausible that the vehicle went over her. Tania was critically injured.
Gerhard van Rooyen, her boyfriend, found her lifeless body and noticed that she wasn’t breathing. He started praying and after what felt like ages she suddenly started moving and gasped for air! The accident took place 52km from Naboomspruit and the area had no cell phone signal. A search party eventually found them and SEVEN hours later Tania arrived at the Muelmed Hospital in Pretoria. The paramedics rushed her into ER and her blood pressure was a mere 60 over 30, and still dropping.
“The doctor eventually told us that our beloved daughter had broken her neck (C1 and C2 ), as well as her back (T7 and T8). “Tania, the talented dancer and personal trainer, was paralysed for life. We were devastated,” says her mother, Marietha.
After five weeks in ICU, Tania was transferred into High Care in the rehabilitation ward. She had to learn how to swallow, sit up, breathe and perform everyday tasks again. In the gym, the physiotherapists exercised her upper body and arms, so she could lift herself from her bed into her wheelchair. She had to adapt to a whole new lifestyle. In the gym, she was now the patient, and not the instructor anymore.
“While she was in hospital, word of her accident and courage spread quickly and she instantly turned into a bit of a celebrity. Patients and staff came to visit her and she was such an inspiration to them,” says Marietha.
Her youth, the fact that she was so fit, her hard work and positive attitude paid off and she was discharged from hospital four weeks earlier than expected. Another new chapter in her life began when Gerhard went down on one knee and proposed on the day she got home!
Gerhard owns a company called Spheratical Productions, where Tania works as a production manager. They specialise in broadcast media, multimedia and film. She lives life to the fullest and when her best friend announced that she was getting married in August this year, she was determined to walk down the aisle in her bridesmaid dress. Her parents bought her the Reciprocating Gait Orthosis or RGO brace and she can walk about 200m with her crutches and someone slightly assisting her for safety reasons.
“It was a great moment to join my friend at her wedding and ‘walk’ into church on her special day. All we need is faith and determination and to be thankful for what we have,” says Tania.