CALGARY – A Calgary girl who was paralyzed in a Texas highway crash this summer is heading to a children’s hospital in California that offers high-tech treatments for spinal injuries.
Mehak Minhas, 10, is to arrive at the Shriners hospital in Sacramento on Monday, accompanied by her eight-year-old sister Jupleen and mother Jasleen.
The trio were on a family holiday with three other family members when their minivan collided with an 18-wheeler northwest of Amarillo, Tx., early on July 14.
Upinder Minhas, 38, his six-year-old son Mehar and 68-year-old mother Nirmal died.
Mehak was airlifted to hospital in critical condition. Jupleen fractured her collarbone. Their mother had broken ribs and suffered extensive bruising.
“My focus is on Mehak and her recovery,” Jasleen Minhas said in an interview two months after the crash.
“As far as our future, it’s not going to be the normal it was. But I’m looking to have some sort of normalcy in our life as we progress further.”
Minhas and her daughters have been staying at the Alberta Children’s Hospital since early August. For the past few weeks, Mehak has been attending the Dr. Gordon Townsend School on the lower level of the hospital for children undergoing long-term care.
Casts have been removed from Mehak’s arm and leg, which were fractured in the crash, and a back brace has also come off. She hasn’t been able to move her legs.
“There is a lot of improvement from the day we came here. It’s a long journey. It’s one step at a time,” her mother said.
While Jupleen’s physical injuries were not nearly as severe, she suffered a great deal of trauma. Her mother says she’s a quiet girl who was very close with her father, brother and grandmother.
Jupleen is going to school half-days right now. She used to always go with her brother Mehar, who would have turned seven last Friday, their mother said.
“His not being present with her right now has left a great impact on her and initially it was really, really hard for her to even go half day,” she said. “But now she’s coping.”
It was important for Jupleen to go with her mother and sister to Sacramento rather than stay back with friends or family, Jasleen Minhas said.
“We’ve already lost so much. I don’t want to have her have the feeling that she doesn’t have her mom next to her.”
Once Mehak arrives at the Shriners hospital, there will be an initial assessment. The family won’t know until after that how long their stay will be and what the treatment will entail.
Friend Gurpreet Singh, a pediatrician who has been helping the Minhas family navigate the medical system, said there will be a tailor-made plan.
“Their goal would be to have her achieve the best of her abilities. Their goal will be to strengthen her muscles, hopefully stimulate the nerves to achieve better recovery and faster recovery.”
One potential technology that could be used is an electrical-stimulation bike, where an electric current is sent through the patient’s muscle, enabling them to pedal.
About a month after Mehak’s stay at Shriners wraps up, the family will have a better idea of what modifications need to be made to their two-story home, with the help of an occupational therapist.
A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $117,000 for medical and funeral expenses, as well as for the girls’ future education.
Young Bhangra Calgary, a traditional Indian dance club that Mehak loved taking part in before the crash, held a fundraiser for the Minhas family on Saturday.
Jasleen Minhas said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming and she wants people to continue to keep her family in their prayers.
“Even people I didn’t know have reached out to us and shown their support. I’m very thankful but that ‘thank you’ is a very small word for what I have really got from family, friends and everybody from the community. I’m really, really thankful.”