8 May 2024

After a horrific road accident, Aspen Medical gives a young survivor a reason to smile

| Jacqueline Lyons
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Elenoa can’t keep the smile off her face as she boards a flight home with her new arm. Photo: Aspen Medical Foundation.

Growing up without the use of her arm might have been the only option for school student Elenoa Gukiwasa after her involvement in one of the worst road accidents in Fiji’s history.

Mid-last year, a school bus carrying 78 students tumbled over onto the road in Lautoka, north of Nadi after gear and brake failures.

Elenoa, along with another student, were both airlifted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva to treat their severe injuries. As a result, the eight-year-old lost her arm from the elbow down.

Fortunately, thanks to the assistance of the Aspen Medical Foundation, Elenoa now has a brand new prosthesis fitted and attached and is ready to help her return to her everyday life.

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Following the accident, Aspen Medical in Fiji approached the Aspen Medical Foundation to see if they could help support Elenoa on her path to recovery.

Under a public-private partnership with the Government of Fiji, Aspen Medical in Fiji is tasked with upgrading the management, healthcare infrastructure and delivery of health services at both Lautoka Hospital and Ba Public Hospitals. Together, these hospitals support 35 per cent of the entire Fijian population.

With the help of APC Prosthetics and JC Travel Professionals, Aspen Medical Foundation agreed to cover the costs of the required prosthetic limb, as well as covering all travel and accommodation costs to reduce the expenses for the family.

Aspen Medical social impact manager Melissa Broers says that when she and her team heard about Elenoa’s situation, they unanimously agreed to help.

“It was a no-brainer to show our support. We knew that offering the chance to receive a prosthetic arm would enable her to live as close to normal a life as she could get,” Ms Broers says.

“The board offered their full support; everyone was on board, so we flew her out here as soon as we could.”

Earlier this year, Elenoa was flown to Sydney Hospital to be fitted with her prosthetic arm. She was accompanied by her grandmother Makelesi, Aspen Medical clinicians Dr Manoa Valeniyasana, Setaita Bulai and Linda Jorgensen, and a translator to help make the process as smooth as possible.

After a week of fitting and physiotherapy in Sydney, Elenoa returned home to physiotherapy sessions at the Lautoka Hospital to ensure a smooth transition into her new rehabilitation phase.

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Her rehabilitation therapy will continue at Lautoka Hospital where she has been working closely with physician Dr Manoa Valeniyasana, who says she is making excellent progress with her recovery and believes she will be back to living her life to the best of her ability.

“She is progressing excellently and will soon regain the ability to perform all her daily activities easily,” Dr Valeniyasana says.

“We are amazed by her progress and can’t wait to watch her continue to improve.”

Aspen Medical’s CEO for Fiji, Gavin Whiteside, says Elenoa is a brave young girl with a long journey ahead of her.

“Elenoa’s trip to Sydney marked a significant step forward in her rehabilitation process,” Mr Whiteside says.

“We are delighted with Elenoa’s progress, and I would like to thank the Aspen Medical Foundation, in particular, the owners of Aspen Medical, Glenn and Amelda Keys, for their wonderful support.”


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