Two-year-old Jaclyn Derks is recovering after a freak blanket fort accident severed her spinal cord. (Canadian Press photo)

‘Freak accident:’ Calgary girl falls through blanket fort, paralyzed by glass

The injury severed her spinal cord in half

Two-year-old Jaclyn Derks was sleeping over at her grandparents’ home and had built a typical childhood fort by draping a blanket from a couch to a bed.

Then she tumbled though the top.

The toddler landed on a glass cup on the floor by the bed. The cup shattered and a shard the size of a quarter lodged in the back of her neck.

The injury severed her spinal cord in half and left her paralyzed on her left side.

“It’s like one in a million … a freak accident,” said Jaclyn’s mother, Kayla Rudichuk, from Calgary. “I could fall on a glass and it probably wouldn’t break. It’s just so crazy how it happened.”

Rudichuk, a 25-year-old mother of two, had been out grocery shopping on the night of July 22 when family called to tell her about the accident. She rushed to the hospital and broke down into tears.

“My two-year-old daughter’s covered in blood, can’t move, has millions of doctors and nurses surrounding her. She’s strapped to a bed. They’re holding her neck. She’s terrified, has no idea what’s going on.”

Jaclyn underwent two blood transfusions before a scan revealed the glass piece was still lodged in her spine. That meant surgery was necessary.

“We literally thought we were going to lose her that night.”

After eight hours, doctors gave Rudichuk good news: they were able to remove the glass and Jaclyn was alive.

But there was also bad news: she was partially paralyzed. They weren’t able to give a prognosis but indicated the paralysis on her left side could be permanent.

Over the last four weeks, Rudichuk said Jaclyn has been resilient. The girl hasn’t complained. And she hasn’t cried, except to demand apple juice.

She has also surprised doctors with her progress.

“It went from she’s never going to walk again to, ‘Oh my God! Her toes are wiggling. Her leg is moving! Her arm is moving!’” said her mother.

Jaclyn has regular physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions. She has been fitted for a leg brace, although she can’t yet stand on her own.

She is likely to remain at Alberta Children’s Hospital for a few more weeks, but could be home in time for her third birthday at the end of next month.

Rudichuk, who works at a car dealership and as an esthetician, plans to take a year off to care for Jaclyn. A GoFundMe campaign had raised $13,000 by Tuesday afternoon.

She said Jaclyn recently got a weekend pass from the hospital and had a sleepover at home. She played with her five-year-old sister and was thrilled to be bouncing again on her backyard trampoline, even if she had to be held.

At the end of the weekend, she knew she had to leave.

“She said, ‘I have to go back to the hospital because I have to get better,’” Rudichuk said.

“She’s so amazing. She’s such a little fighter.”

— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

No shortage of water supply in Ladysmith despite stage three water restrictions

Water restrictions remain in place to service community in case of an emergency

Chemainus Harvest House still demands attention in summer

Food bank supplies dwindle with diminished donations

Mamma Mia! smashes Chemainus Theatre Festival ticket sales record

Total expected to surpass 30,000 tickets before the show ends on Aug. 31

Ladysmith’s Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting Wednesday with representatives from U.S. environmental group

Going with the flow in River Tales

Crofton author documents many interesting experiences from her time on the Cowichan River

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

Rescue required after woman falls trying to climb down from Nanaimo walkway

Husband says his wife fell trying to find a place to urinate

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Most Read