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

Otter Co-op’s CEO wins top business award

Jack Nicholson was awarded the Business in Vancouver CEO of the year award on Nov. 15.

Cyclist injured in Langley hit-and-run

Rider was taken to hospital

Phasing plans for Brookswood defeated

Council voted against staggering neighbourhood planning in Brookswood-Fernridge.

Murder victim Jagvir Malhi was not involved in gangs, says IHIT

Investigators say Abbotsford man was ‘associated to those involved’ in conflict

Langley’s supportive housing plan moves forward

Township council will now hear from the public before making a final decision.

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Mustangs down Totems

Aldergrove senior boys basketball team in pre-season games

Most Read