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

Exploring BC’s heritage in the context of culture and community

Creston Museum is partnering with the Heritage Branch and Heritage BC to present a provincial roundtable at the CDCC.

Trail bus line readies to takeover Kelowna run

Silver City Stage Lines must have a booking site up by Sept. 30; two vehicles activated by Oct. 26

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Ducks Unlimited 34th Annual Dinner & Auction

The fundraiser takes place on Saturday, October 13th, 2018 at the Creston & District Community Complex.

Service interruption and the issue of Boil Water Notice planned for Balfour

The RDCK will be issuing a Boil Water Notice starting on Wednesday, September 19th for all water users in Balfour.

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Around the BCHL: Nanaimo Clippers acquire defenceman from Langley Rivermen

Around the BCHL is a look at goings on around the BCHL and the junior A world.

B.C. co-op develops tech to help prevent ODs, especially for alone users

Brave Technology has been awarded $200,000 in the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge

Recent jump in U.S. butter imports? All smooth, says Canadian dairy farmers

U.S. farmers recently enjoyed extra access to the Canadian market

Potential replacements for Phoenix pay system to start testing soon: Brison

Testing of prototypes to replace troubled federal pay system will begin within weeks

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. briefly the world’s largest cannabis company

The company, only listed in the US, nearly reached $300 in afternoon trading on Wednesday

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

New York books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor of the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication

B.C. couple plans sustainable, zero-waste life in the Shuswap

Plan includes building a tiny house before the snow flies

Most Read