Pretoria teen’s total paralysis a mystery for doctors

Giovanni Hendriks in hospital. Photo: Supplied

Giovanni Hendriks in hospital. Photo: Supplied

Giovanni Hendriks came home from school to tell his mother that he wasn’t feeling well, and was admitted to hospital completely paralysed the next day.

A 17-year-old Hoërskool Tuine learner has spent the last 13 days in ICU at Kalafong hospital, reports Pretoria Moot Rekord.

This as doctors attempt to find a cause for his full-body paralysis.

Giovanni Hendriks came home from school on February 25 to tell his mother Elize that he wasn’t feeling well.

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“On the 25th he said he felt drained like he had no strength left in him,” she said.

“We took him to the Pretoria West hospital. There a doctor told us he had the flu and sent us home with some pain medication.”

The next day, however, Giovanni was only getting worse.

“I had to call an ambulance because he was totally paralysed. He couldn’t move or swallow or speak. They took him back to Pretoria West hospital.”

By 13:00 Giovanni appeared to be slipping into a coma.

“He was transferred from there to Kalafong hospital,” said Elize.

“To this day, the doctors cannot deduce what is wrong with him and he remains totally paralysed. They are treating him for every infection and bacteria they can think of.”

Giovanni was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that attacks healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system, nine years ago, according to Elize.

Guillain-Barre syndrome results in weakness, numbness, and tingling, and can eventually cause paralysis.

Giovanni has undergone two MRI scans, one CTI scan and two lumber punctures, all of which appear clear.

Elize said the ordeal has been very hard on Giovanni’s brother and father, Giani.

“The doctors had him on treatment for Guillain-Barre for about a week,” she said.

Giovanni is able to move his eyes and doctors and his family use this to communicate with him.

“We are driving from home to the hospital all the time, and last Saturday a drunk driver drove into our vehicle.”

Elize said the family, who stay in Danville in Pretoria, trusts a miracle will happen.

Anyone who wishes to assist the Hendriks family can contact the Pretoria Moot Rekord for more information.

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