Keith Slabbert was a normal boy growing up in South Africa. He was full of energy, always playing and running around as young boys do. At the age of five his parents bought him a bike and not very long after getting on the bike he proved to be the unbeaten champion.
When he was eleven Keith's family moved to Durban and he gave up his motorbike for a body board, Keith loved the Ocean and spent a lot of time in the water; he loved this sense of freedom.
Keith was loved by everyone, surrounded by friends and family, his young life was complete. Then tragedy struck and in the early hours of the 26th of August 2012 his carefree, fun loving life took a dramatic turn.
All Keith can remember is waking up on the floor of his bedroom with his brother Josh and his girlfriend Bianca by his side.
Keith was having a seizure and must have stood up and then fell to the floor. "I remember telling my brother to move my legs because I was so uncomfortable." Keith recalls that frightful day, "He did, but I couldn't feel my legs or my hands."
Not long after arriving at St Augustine's an x-ray revealed Keith had fractured his C4 cervical disc, which resulted in his paralyses. "I had no idea at this point what my injury was and my family were told not to tell me yet. I had no pain, but knew something serious was wrong because I could not move or feel anything from my chest down or my hands." Keith Said.
After getting a second opinion from another neurosurgeon Keith was moved to Entabeni hospital and the neurosurgeon waited for over a week for the swelling to subside before performing surgery to put Keith's neck in place again.
This was when Keith found out about the seriousness of his injuries, "I was devastated, but hopeful at the same time." He said. "The doctor explained that he couldn't say what recovery would take place if any at all. In the surgery he replaced my fractured disc and fused it with C5 and a cage put around it to protect it. The pain after the surgery was insane, so I spent a lot of the time sleeping."
Soon I was receiving physiotherapy once a day, where I worked to regain strength in my right arm. Once I was strong enough, I would be moved to the rehabilitation unit. I was so motivated to get there because I felt once I was there I could work hard and recovery would begin.
Exactly a month after his fateful seizure Keith was moved to the rehabilitation centre where he met his therapy team, which consisted of a neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, psychologist and nursing staff. "I started by doing physiotherapy from my bed until I was able to leave my bed and go into a wheelchair. These people are amazing in what they do and I am in absolute awe of what they are accomplishing here."
Keith's mother Dorothy has been trying to raise R200 000 so that Keith can go to be treated in America's Project Walk Spinal Cord Injury Recovery. Project Walk provides an improved quality of life for people with disabilities through activity-based recovery, education, research and development.
"I have a long, long road ahead of me, but I am positive. The love and support I have received along the way from family and friends has been overwhelming and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart." Keith says.
"I know for sure, that without your love, support and prayers I would be in a very different place right now, so I humbly ask you to please keep up the support and stay with me on my road to recovery."
To follow Keith's Journey and his personal progress please feel free to contact his community page on Facebook
If you would like to help Dorothy fundraise or would like to donate to help Keith get to America, then call her on 0832337274.