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She screamed like a tortured animal

A motorbike accident in October 2015 irrevocably changed the life of Dominique van Niekerk , 22, her parents and her son.

Dominique sustained brain damage and has been bedridden since.

She has already undergone 14 operations and will never be able to walk again. She is in constant pain and can use only her right arm and hand,Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.

Dominique’s mother, Theresa Ross, from Sasolburg, is looking after her 22-month-old grandson, Thomas. 

Thomas was just two months old when Dominique and a friend were riding on a motorbike between Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg on the afternoon of October 17, 2015. The bike crashed into the back of a car.

Dominique sustained multiple injuries and was admitted to the Sebokeng Hospital. She was in a coma for almost two months and doctors gave her slim chance of surviving.

Ross says her daughter had been in the casualty ward at the hospital for three days. “When doctors realised she wasn’t going to die, she was moved to the Intensive Care Unit.” There she was put on a respirator.” 


Theresa Ross with her grandson and daughter, Dominique van Niekerk (Netwerk24)

Her pelvis was broken and a pin was planted in her right femur. She was in Sebokeng Hospital for four weeks and still in a coma. She also developed huge bed sores.

After a “terrible fight”, the Road Accident Fund undertook to pay for Dominique’s medical treatment. 

She was transferred to a hospital in Boksburg. There doctors established that her knees and her left elbow and shoulder had been crushed, her pelvis was still broken, she’d sustained serious neck injuries and had brain damage.

After four weeks in that hospital, Ross says Dominique’s organs failed – possibly because she’d just been lying all day.

Meanwhile, Ross had to resign from her job to be close to her daughter, as the hospital was about 110km from her home in Sasolburg.

Ross sometimes slept in a car outside the hospital to be with her daughter the following day.

Dominique opened her eyes about eight weeks after the accident – and then didn’t stop crying for two weeks.

On December 24, 2015 she was transferred to a rehabilitation centre in Orange Grove in Johannesburg. For about a year she just lay there, day in and day out. Her legs calsified and she began growing in a foetal position.

Then, said Ross, the struggle began to get her daughter to an orthopedic surgeon to make her life easier. 

Dominique was later transferred to Mediclinic Vanderbijlpark where her legs had to be broken because they’d grown skew and calcified.

“My child had so much pain that she screamed like a tortured animal and cried all the time,” she said.

Dominique phoned her mother often at night, saying she wanted to commit suicide, but the thought of her son kept her from doing so.

Dominique has to undergo at least another three operations before she might be able to go home to be with her parents and son.

“My son is awesome. I can’t wait to be a mom for him,” said Dominique.

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