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Woman left paralyzed by superbug is returning to Sarnia

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Cathy Dobson

A Sarnia woman fighting to recover from a devastating superbug attack has been moved to tears by an outpouring of community support, her family says.

Sue VanEkeren, 51, remains paralyzed from the neck down but is scheduled to return to Sarnia this week.

She contracted an MRSA staph infection last June that spread throughout her body, settled in her lungs and attacked her joints and spinal cord. She was on life support for several weeks at the critical care trauma unit in London.

When Sarnia-area residents heard her story many offered to help, said VanEkeren’s sister, Irene Rose.

A Nov. 29 fundraiser organized by family and friends raised about $12,000 for specialized equipment to help VanEkeren settle into her new life.

That, coupled with money donated to a “Help Sue Roll Home” fund at Scotiabank, has generated a total of $20,000, Rose said.

Between 500 and 600 people attended the fundraiser, including many who had never met her, Rose said.

“Sue is totally overwhelmed that people who don’t even know her want to help. When she found out, she cried and cried for several minutes before she could speak.”

Total strangers who learned about VanEkeren’s plight in The Journal donated an electric wheelchair as well as a manual one. Several hospital beds have also been offered.

“She’s disappointed her progress hasn’t been faster,” said Rose. “It’s really, really difficult, but knowing that so many people care has truly made her feel special.”

Details were still being worked out about where VanEkeren, a single mother of two grown children and a grandchild, will be accommodated when she leaves London’s Parkwood Rehabilitation Centre.

She requires 24/7 care and can’t go home, Rose said.

“Sue’s only got a very limited amount of movement below the neck. She can’t do anything for herself.”

The family hopes to use some of the donations for electronic equipment to improve VanEkeren’s quality of life.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a difficult to treat bacteria and often occurs in people who have been in hospital or a health-care facility.

VanEkeren’s family does not know where she picked up the bug.

For more, visit Facebook at Help Sue Roll Home. Donations are accepted at local branches of the Scotiabank.

Sue VanEkeren
Sue VanEkeren



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