Resego, six, triumphs over life-threatening burn injuries

Miraculous smile after months of fighting for her life
Tuesday, May 7 2024

Rescued from a devastating house fire, more than half of Resego Lekgema’s small body was badly burnt leaving her fighting for her life for months in the specialised paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital.

Now, after some six months in hospital, six-year-old Resego is continuing her recovery after being discharged from Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital and making progress that a few months earlier seemed barely possible.

“When Resego was admitted to the PICU at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in October last year, she had burns covering almost 60% of her total body surface area, and 10% inhalation burns inside her lungs,” says paediatric intensivist Dr Palesa Monyake.

The little girl was placed on an oscillator machine to support her breathing, and a multidisciplinary team including Dr Monyake, a paediatric pulmonologist , paediatric surgeon Dr Vered Lack and the caring nursing staff set about the long and painstaking process of treating her burns and fighting the ever-present threat of infection.

After six months in hospital, little Resego Lekgema has made a remarkable recovery from burn injuries to over half of her body sustained in a house fire. Doctors now describe her as ‘a happy little chatterbox’.


Resego is pictured with her mother, Rebaone Lekgema (left), and paediatric intensivist Dr Palesa Monyake (right), during her admission for intensive therapy at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital.


“Resego had a very difficult road, but from the start she showed incredible tenacity. Her body’s immune system was in shock, and she developed sepsis and multiorgan failure, which are unfortunately fairly common with severe burns. Several times, we feared for her life, but somehow she pulled through,” Dr Monyake says.

After five long months in hospital with her parents and devoted grandmother by her side, Netcare Waterfall City Hospital staff threw a party for Resego to celebrate as she was at last well enough to be discharged for the next stage of her recovery.

“In late February, when she was breathing well and could eat, Resego was transferred to us at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital,” says Professor Andre Mochan, a neurologist who practises at the medical rehabilitation facility.

“After being so ill, Resego’s lungs, heart, liver, and other organs were affected, and from being confined to bed for so long, we needed to help her rebuild her muscles and regain her functioning.

“The burns scars on her face, limbs and trunk also needed to be carefully managed. As scars heal, they contract, which makes movement difficult and can potentially be disfiguring if not appropriately addressed,” he says.

“Although pain was not a major feature anymore by this point, Resego was scared, anxious and irritated after the trauma of her experience and months in intensive care. At first, she was withdrawn and shy, not wanting to talk to anyone, and it wasn't easy to win her trust so we could start some of her therapies.

“Soon our perseverance was rewarded, and she has turned out to be a happy little chatterbox. She’s been an absolute angel and the most cheerful child on the ward,” Prof Mochan says.
Jessica Erasmus, an occupational therapist and member of the multidisciplinary healthcare team caring for Resego at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, which also includes a dietician, physiotherapists, a social worker, and a psychologist, says that Resego was nervous to engage with her new therapy team at first.

“My first three days with Resego were primarily aimed at getting a little smile out of her. It wasn’t easy to draw her out of her shell at first, but our dance parties really helped her to open up to us.
“We soon discovered she has a very playful nature, she’s always engaged and she’s making good progress so far. She’s been doing physiotherapy to build her muscles and help keep the scar tissue supple to maximise her range of movement.

“Scarring only matures after two years, and so we have a window of opportunity to make the most of the various therapies, including scar massage and pressure garments to promote healing and reorganisation of fibres in the scars, keeping them flat and smooth,” Erasmus says.

“Splints are also helpful for preventing stricture of the healing scars at the joints, and in Resego’s case, her right arm and knee have been splinted in the pressure garments she sleeps in to assist in keeping the scarring at these crucial joints as flexible as possible.”

Over time, Resego may require surgeries to release the tight scar tissue as she grows, however she continues to progress in leaps and bounds.
Resego’s mother, Rebaone, expressed her gratitude to all the specialists, nurses and other health practitioners at Netcare Waterfall City and Netcare Rehabilitation hospitals for everything they have done to bring her daughter through the family’s ordeal.

“We have been supported with kindness and prayers, and our hearts are full of thanks for the recovery Resego has made. Every day she is getting better, and our prayers have been answered,” said the family, from Delareyville Atamelang in the North West.

“We, Resego’s parents, would like to thank you all for saving Resego's life, from the positivity and honesty you showed you made us stronger than we were. Resego's situation showed us that life is a rollercoaster. Through our prayer, your dedication, and sleepless nights, we thank you and may God bless you more to keep on serving and saving our people. We love you.”
“Resego is doing so well. To see how far she has come and knowing all that she has been through, it is an absolute miracle to see her smile now,” Dr Monyake concludes.


Notes to editors

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Issued by:   MNA on behalf of Netcare Waterfall City and Netcare Rehabilitation Hospitals
For media enquiries contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or  Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:   (011) 469 3016
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