Judith Xaba (53) slipped and broke her leg just over 10 years ago. Most people would get it casted and if lucky, that would be the end of it. In Judith’s case however, luck was not on her side. Her leg wasn’t set straight and once the cast came off, the break was healed but with the lower leg bending 30 % in the middle of the shaft.

Three years after the fact, Judith could barely walk on her leg. The pain was unbearable and made her almost immobile.  Her employers decided to get involved, and with their help, she applied for a knee replacement at Steve Biko hospital. The waiting list however was extremely long.

When the wait started to get too long, she tried a few other hospitals and was also put on a waiting list at Thembisa and Witbank hospital. A couple of times she even received a surgery date, just to be sent away on the day because they did not have any beds available.

In 2018 Judith re-applied at Steve Biko. This time she was told that she would have to wait 3-5 years to get the help she needed.

During this time Judith also lost her brother and sister in two separate incidents, leaving her to care for her own child as well as 3 of her brother’s children and 3 of her sister’s children. One needs to be able to work when you have 7 mouths to feed. She was employed full time, but it became more and more difficult to put in a full day’s work due to her intense level of pain and difficult mobility.

It was at this point that her employer Marthie read about Operation Healing Hands in a local publication and decided to try one last time. Within a few months Judith was accepted by the OHH ethical committee and was put on the surgery list.

On 29 May 2019 she received her free osteotomy surgery courtesy of the OHH team and their generous partners at Midstream Mediclinic. She was also fitted with an orthofix frame.

This however is only the first step. As soon as the orthofix comes off early next year, she will also receive a knee replacement, which will see her up and ready to work pain-free for the rest of her days.

With a generous donation from her employers as well as Lotto Star and Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels, all extra costs will be covered when the whole process is complete.

~Article by Yolande Strauss


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