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Brackenhurst family seeks funds for daughter with rare disease

Bianca Ackhurst (22) has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, now her family is raising funds to cover her R300,000 medical bill.

Bianca Ackhurst was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – Brackenhurst resident Bianca Ackhurst was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of an Alberton hospital after experiencing flu-like symptoms and "tingling" in her fingers and toes on 3 July.

Ackhurst was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an extremely rare and serious autoimmune disorder which attacks healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system.

The incurable syndrome affects 1 in 100,000 individuals, while there is no known cure, doctors say the severity of the symptoms can be reduced through extensive physiotherapy and special treatment.

In a few short days, the 22-year-old went from the bubbly and energetic personality to being completely paralysed, relying on a ventilator to breathe.

“We, as a family, are shocked and devastated at the speed at which and the way this illness has affected our daughter. It breaks our hearts to see her laying unable to move or talk when just two weeks ago she was perfectly healthy”, said Bianca’s father Jeff Ackhurst.

During her stay at the private facility, before she was moved the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital’s ICU, Ackhurst medical bill rose to an estimated R300,000 as she is not on medical aid.

The family has started a crowdfunding campaign to help cover their massive medical bill. So far R72,574 has been raised with the help of 106 donors since the campaign began on 6 July.

“We are overwhelmed by the donations on our BackaBuddy campaign as well as the support, prayers and well-wishers we have received. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts”, said Jeff.

Once released from ICU, Ackhurst will be transferred to the neurological department and then begin extensive physical rehabilitation.

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