On the Sunday, 21st of October, 2006, Henry van Zyl, a keen biker, and paramedic, was called to assist another biker that had been injured after falling of his bike at the Thunder Valley Raceway in Brakpan, where Henry offered his medical assistance. Whilst on his way with his bike to the injured party, another biker with a quad-bike collided with Henry at high speed. The result was that Henry sustained severe injuries. Henry was found at the scene, unresponsive, his pupils fixed dilated, not breathing, and with facial and airway bleeding. He was resuscitated on the scene by his fiancé who is a Trauma Sister, however it was obvious that Henry was dying.
There were clear signs of severe brain trauma, together with a number of other severe injuries which included severe damage to his lungs – the right lung had collapsed. Internal bruising of the lungs combined with bleeding into his chest cavity and fractured ribs meant that Henry was in dire need of emergency medical attention. His condition was further complicated by fractured ribs and a severely dislocated shoulder. Henry was successfully resuscitated, but his breathing was manually maintained as he was unable to breath by himself during the acute stage of his injuries.
Henry was rushed to the Glynnwood Hospital in Benoni, where he was stabilised, and placed into the Intensive Care Unit. A chest drain was inserted and he underwent emergency surgery to begin the reconstruction of the damaged shoulder and upper arm. He was also placed on a ventilator that supported his breathing for a ten day period. Due to the severe injury to his right shoulder area, Henry now has limited use of the arm, as movement of the joint is permanently restricted. As a result of the damage to Henry’s brain, he was very limited in what he could do for himself, and needed permanent care. After being admitted to the Kensington Rehabilitation Clinic for a few months, Henry started doing some of the most basic self-care tasks by himself.
Henry has been discharged from hospital, and is now home. He is still in need of further care and assistance, but his medical aid has been depleted. Henry has severe memory lapses both short term, and long term. He finds it difficult to concentrate, and is unable to pay attention over short and extended periods of time. His problem-solving and planning abilities have been affected and his responses are more delayed, resulting in a fluctuation in his emotions and mood swings. Henry was a loyal employee of the Springs Emergency Services, Ekurhuleni Metro, for thirteen years, and at the time of his accident, he had just started working for a private Ambulance company. Due to the fact that he had just started his employment, the company could not continue to pay his salary, and medical benefits. Thus, van Zyl and family now find themselves in a dilemma. He is not in position to comprehend the problem, or to do anything about it.
As a result, his fiancé had to take on a second job, working overtime at another hospital, to take over payments of his medical aid, installments on the car and house, and in taking care of Henry’s two children, Teressa (13) and Michael (9). Henry was a loyal and dedicated paramedic, who spent his life helping others in their time of need. He was passionate about helping others, and improving their situation, regardless of his own disposition. When Henry lay in the ICU, there was a little girl in the bed next to him who had been also successfully resuscitated by Henry, just before he had his tragic accident. Despite a plea in a local newspaper, Springs Advertiser, for assistance for this family, no assistance came for this caregiver, and fellow biker who was so severely injured, assisting another biker in need.
How you can help:
The chaplains in Nigel have arranged a fabulous “day jol” fundraising event to try and get some assistance for this dedicated and keen fellow biker, now in need of assistance and support.
This fantastic and worthwhile event will include great activities such as a Tug of War and Tyre Throw, and there will be a swimming pool so you can bring the kiddies too! Other great things include a braai area, cash bar, great food, music and the “Think Bike” Association. The SA National Blood Service will be there too so support a good cause and assist a man that so often assisted others in their time of need.
Saturday, 13th of October
10h00 till late!
116 Balfour Road
R50 per person, including badge
For more information, contact the details below.
If you would like to participate in organizing this event, please contact Annelize Muller or David Niebuhr.
David – 082 954 3898
Annelize – 083 562 8806
Donald – 082 440 5777
CMA – Heidelberg