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Lu raising funds for South African hospital in memory of her brother

Emergency Department nurse Lu Zikhali is raising funds for a South African hospital where her brother Elias passed away following a stroke, where for three months he could not access equipment that would have enabled him to shower with dignity or be taken outside, which she believes would have given him a sense of hope. 

 Lu website

My brother Elias

Elias, a father of seven, was struck down with a hemiplegic stroke a few years ago that left him unable to use his left side.

Confined to a four-bed hospital room in Tshifudi Limpopo, South Africa, he was coherent enough to understand the hopelessness of his situation.

His tiny shared bathroom was not big enough for a wheelchair and did not include handrails that would have enabled him to steady himself with his good side or have a shower chair to sit on while he showered.

Bed washes were his only option and at times were a messy ordeal especially when nurses were busy and soiling himself was unavoidable.

Outside his window, the sun shone but unfortunately it was a reminder of what he could look at but never enjoy.

There simply were not enough wheelchairs available at the hospital for his family to take him on outings through the garden.

Without any stimulation to his body or mind Elias gave up the will to live.

Three months later, at the age of 63, he passed away leaving behind his seven children, wife, brother and sister.

Working in the Emergency Department at St John of God Midland Public Hospital it is hard to imagine hospitals without such basic necessities for patients but in this village that is the reality.

It broke my heart to see Elias when I flew back for a visit.

Along with my older brother I had to help wash Elias when he soiled himself.

It would have been deeply humiliating to Elias to have his sister see him like that.

If basic handrails had been installed and the bathroom better equipped for his needs my other brother may have been able to help Elias with showering.

I feel we all deserve a little dignity in sickness.

Ward renovations in memory of Elias

 When Elias passed away I decided that I’d like to renovate a few bathrooms in the hospital so other patients and their families do not have to go through the same ordeal.

If there was more equipment and better facilities I am sure my brother would not have given up on life. 

He would have been able to get out of bed and would have fought harder to rehabilitate.

I am hoping to raise at least $5,000 to renovate some of the hospital’s bathrooms and buy some basic equipment to help patients.

It will help build a sense of community and show others within the village that we must do what we can to help those less fortunate.

I am also hoping to ease the mental anguish of patients who suffer with minor and major strokes get back on their feet quicker and maintain their dignity so they don’t lose their will to live.

Luckily, the Australian dollar goes a long way in regional South Africa and simple donations can help.

For example, the following are costs to buy some basic items:

  • shower arm: $6
  • shower head: $10 
  • walking stick: $10 
  • paint: $10
  • hand rail: $13
  • shower bench: $27
  • shower waste outlet: $27
  • shower chair: $34
  • walking frame: $38
  • shower tap: $40
  • commode chair: $60
  • toilet: $75
  • wheelchair: $97

If you would like to donate funds, all donations regardless of size are greatly appreciated and I will provide updates on our progress.

Lu Zikhali Emergency Department Nurse

About the Author

Lu Zikhali is a nurse working in the Emergency Department of St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals.

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