Archive for the ‘Keanu’ Category

Today, 10 years ago…

Posted: September 11, 2014 in accident, Keanu, medical

… I was an operational Advanced Life Support Paramedic for one of the national private ambulance companies in Durban.

It was a time for me when I was at a very low point in my life. I was frustrated working in Durban, just moved from one company to another, burnt out after many years of seeing the affects of irresponsible parents when their children have drowned, drunk drivers walking away from the carnage they caused, the savage torture of innocent families during house invasions and the daily violence which has become so common it didn’t make any news stories.

This very night I met a family at their most extreme period of vulnerability, a fateful meeting which I can honestly say changed my life. Even today, looking back on 18 years of operational experience as an ALS Paramedic, I can count on one hand the cases which really effected me.

I have shared much about young Keanu and I can’t believe that his life changing moment which occurred at a mere 3 months old was 10 years ago. It feels like yesterday I arrived on that scene. I can still see the vehicles on the wet ground from the rain earlier in the evening, the reflection of the flashing lights from the police vehicle creating an eery feeling and the all familiar aroma of an accident scene. A distinctive smell which EMS around the world can relate to.

Looking at Keanu now, seeing how he has grown with his ever increasing challenges and the permanent effects of a massive head injury and cerebral bleeds, I’ve often thought why do we as healthcare professionals try so hard to save lives. We study for many years, have the most updated knowledge and skills to perform the impossible in the most difficult situations, only to see the long lasting effects of an injury such as this.

And then, it’s this very miraculous child, that answers my own question. He was for all intensive purposes brain dead, with the family accepting the inevitable of making the most difficult and heartbreaking decision any parent can make, and one pray changed all that.

Those who know me, will know I’m not a very religious person. I believe in a Supreme Being who created all and in salvation, but that’s as far as it goes! But…. I can honestly say, this pray worked !!!…. He woke up and lived.

His injuries has resulted in excessive long term disabilities, the latest being osteoporosis. But through all this, he has brought joy to his parents lives, a happy little boy who thrives on his mom’s love, and knowing nothing else but the love he feels from his family.

Why am I writing all this? Quite simply to assure all EMS practitioners out there, that whilst we save the lives on a daily basis, and ponder as I have as to the validity of our actions, it does make a difference. Always believe that, because despite the long term outcome and how we feel when we see that, we must always be cognitive of the fact that you have performed the ultimate act anyone can provide…. You saved a life, and allowed them to live !

A miraculous recovery

Posted: January 25, 2014 in accident, Keanu, Uncategorized


We all have that case we will never forget. Despite 1000’s of patients and scenes and situations, just one will always stand out above all others. One that we always remember in minute detail. One which we wonder about what could’ve, would’ve should’ve…..

That patient who, despite medical opinions, diagnosis’s and prognosis’s, logic and common sense, proves that miracles do in fact happen

Mine….was a special little boy,who survived against all odds…

And last night, I had the privilege to meet another miracle. A patient of Nicole’s, whose life changed completely in a split second 14 years ago that very night. His recollections of that fateful night were patchy, and the memories describing the last 14 years were filled with pain, fear, anger and strength.

Just another night, no different to any other, Neil and his friends were at a local restaurant, enjoying a great evening, as they had done many times over.
A slip of a foot, a misplaced hand, sent Neil tumbling over the railing on the balcony. Managing to grab hold, he hung over the edge, and felt his fingers slipping. Neil plummeted 1 story down, landing on the hard ground below.

By some cruel twist of fate, his body had fallen at an angle, and he crashed onto the parking lot below, with his back and shoulder slamming into the concrete pavement.

Battling to breath, Neil lay sprawled across the pavement, feeling no pain…in fact…. He felt nothing at all!

Paralyzed from the chest down, he lay awkwardly whilst his friends tried to move him.
Nicole arrived at this moment, having responded from the fire station, directly across the road. Preventing any further movement, she assessed the situation and went into action. Immobilized, sedated and ventilated, Neil was airlifted to hospital with 13 fractured vertebra including the dreaded Hangmans fracture.


IF Neil survived, he had a 95%chance of quadriplegia.

After 7 months in traction, multiple operations, spinal fusions and intensive therapy, Neil walked again.

A self made businessman, he pushed himself with absolute determination to recovery. 13 years later, Neil managed to track Nicole down and arranged to meet, and the two sat and reminisced every detail.

Neil had the opportunity to thank the paramedic who saved him, and filling in the blanks, finding the closure needed.

His amazing wife Sue, who witnessed the accident whilst in the early stages of their relationship, described to me how the last 13 years have been. I sat in awe, listening to how they built a relationship and ultimately a marriage amidst the most difficult circumstances.

With signs of spinal injury still evident, Neil spoke of trials and tribulations, and successes and miracles. I found him to be a very positive and humble man, and the love between the two everlasting.

Normally I don’t enjoy meetings with patients.It has always been an unwritten rule in the EMS, one I broke when I met Keanu so many years after his accident. Having spoken about him, dreamt of him, prayed and wondered, it was without a question the greatest feeling and moment I have experienced. That pure joy, seeing Keanu with Lisa, experiencing the deepest level of love between mom and son, made me realize we have been way too emotionless in our profession.

And I saw the same last night, watching Nicole and Neil talking, tears glistening while each spoke of their own experience of that fateful night.

Injury specific, Neil should not have been sitting sitting in front of us, having dinner and getting to know each other. And if, by some miracle, he had survived, should have been a quadriplegic. Yet here he was, walking and talking.

Do miracles exist?

Lisa and Sue can answer that, and Keanu and Neil can attest for that.

Today I visited a very special person. A person that I met 6 years ago, whilst on duty, going about my daily routine, responding to accident, shootings, to chest pain to asthma attack.

On the 11 September 2004, this healthy young lad, just 4 months old, was in his car seat, in the back of mom and dads car, going home. Dad stopped at a red robot…and then…his entire world was turned upside down.

A car came flying up behind them, and smashed into the back of his car, completely destroying the back of his car, ripping his car seat away from the structure.

He sustained a very severe head injury. I arrived on scene, assessed, stabilized which included passing a breathing tube into the trachea (Endotracheal tube) and ventilated him to the trauma unit. The prognosis was very bad, severe multiple brain bleeds filled his little head. The doctors said that he had a 5% chance of survival….

But the family wouldn’t accept that. They prayed day in and day out.Everyday I visited, mom was by his side, praying some more. And just when all hope was gone, a miracle happened.

He opened his eyes.

And so started a very long recovery period. This young lad was released from hospital, and from that day, for the last 6 years has undergone extensive physiotherapy. He flew off to China, where he underwent Stem Cell Treatment, saw specialists in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and now Johannesburg. His brain damage resulted in blindness as a result of optic nerve damage, and is mentally and physically disabled. He has multiple seizures daily, and is 100% dependent on mom.

I have thought about this young man for the last 6 years. Every day he has been on my mind, the one case that has always had me wondering and thinking and worrying. One day last year, while thinking about that accident, I felt inspired to write a poem. And after another posting, My sister Jeanette searched the Net, and found him for me. So after contacting his mom, Lisa, I planned a visit. A visit that I was expecting to be very emotional. But…it wasn’t, in fact, it was the complete opposite.

Today i saw Keanu Santos for the first time in 6 years. A patient I had treated, that affected me greatly, that inspired me to continue working the road, and help these little precious people.

and let me tell you. WOW. What an amazingly happy boy. In his own way, he communicates with his mom, and watching these two with each other, you cant help not feel the love. Its all powerful, this bond between mom and son. Yes, he is handicapped, yes he is blind…but he is ALIVE, both physically and in personality. It just makes all I see on the road, all worthwhile.

(picture courtesy of Lisa Santos)

I do know that Lisa would like to send him to Germany for further Stem Cell Treatment, which will obviously cost a fortune. I hope this comes through for him.

His story can be found on

I am very glad I visited him today, and will definitely do so again, and I take my hat off to Lisa, for being such a strong and loving mother. And to you Lisa, well done for placing him in a car seat that and every other day. All parents should take heed, and follow your example. If he had not been in one; he wouldn’t be here today.

I seem to be going through a serious emotional time at the moment. Things are happening in my life that are forcing me to re-look at certain things.

So today, feeling a bit lonely, I was going through a box of old things, and found something that shook me to my first birthday. This specific item was given to me in the Christmas following a case i had gone to that changed my life forever. And looking and reading it, brought all the memories, both good and bad to the forefront. I cried holding this, even Erin asked me what was wrong.

I was told this young man would die, based on the best medical science, all believed it, though all prayed it wouldn’t happen.

It didnt.

He lived.

I wrote a poem a while ago about him. I think this poem is better…

I have no idea what happened to him after he was discharged, I wish i knew, unfortunately I lost touch with his parents.

So, to Victor, Lisa and most especially Keanu, wherever you are, you guys are the most special people i have ever met in my life, because the fact is:

YOU saved me!