Rida creates medical history
By Sister Janice Barnard
In 2006 we found out that Rida and Rudy Viljoen were expecting. We had experience with Judete and we’d done well with her care. We thought we were well prepared.
Then came more news, Rida was pregnant with twins! Prof Mervyn and Dr Cathy Baird carried out research, to find out how other doctors had treated this particular challenge. They failed to find another case like it. The international CF association confirmed Rida was the first known CF sufferer in the world to conceive twins naturally.
We watched each month of her pregnancy pass with great anticipation. She became a one-woman public relations campaign for cystic fibrosis and created a huge amount of awareness.
In May 2007, we admitted Rida to Ward 496 for bed rest. On June 15th, the day before the caesarean was due; we moved an extra bed into the cubicle for Rudy. This time, it was all planned and perfectly controlled. We thought!
June 16th – aptly, Youth Day – dawned. The soon-to-be grandparents arrived and we prepared Rida her for delivery.
All this happened during a nurses’ strike. Our nurses came to work without uniform, to avoid confrontation. Once inside, we were protected by military personnel, chains and locks.
Montie and Larice were born safely and mother did well. Back up to 496 with Rida and Larice. Montie had to spend the night in the transitional unit, but we were allowed to bring him up to the ward the next day.
The next couple of weeks were spent in a flurry of baby care products, nappies and bottles. We’d become a nursery and a flurry of visitors, both family and professionals, arrived to see the world-famous twins! Rida had a chest infection and went onto intravenous treatment immediately after delivery of her children. Rudy worked overtime with his children but the staff was more than happy to take over every now and then!
Today, Rida, Rudy, Montie and Larice are like any other family.