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Lasting impact: Charities help family deal with aftermath of crash

Posted on 04/01/2010 12:00am

Lasting impact: Charities help family deal with aftermath of crash

By Rochelle Baker - Abbotsford News
Published: January 04, 2010

Nine-year-old Arshdeep Sidhu had just spent the weekend with relatives celebrating a family wedding in March 2008.

He was on the way home with his older brother, cousin and mother, when blocks from home, the vehicle they were travelling in was T-boned by a drunk driver who had run a stop sign.

In a single moment of twisted metal and broken glass, the life of Arshdeep and that of his family changed forever.

The force of the crash flipped the Sidhus' SUV. Firefighters and paramedics pulled Arshdeep from the wreckage, struggling to stabilize the critically injured boy.

Rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital, it was not clear Arshdeep would make it through the night.

He survived, but his spine was severed, leaving him a quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator.

He was transferred to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, where he would spend the next eight months before coming home.

In the meantime, his parents worked hard to prepare the family home to meet Arshdeep's needs. A new room and bathroom on the ground floor had to be completely renovated to allow for wheelchair movement. A hoist was installed in the bedroom ceiling to get Arshdeep, now 11, from his wheelchair into his specialized bed.

As he needs care 24/7, a nurse arrives in the home weekday nights to monitor Arshdeep while his parents get some sleep.

The greatest danger is Arshdeep will suffer some sort of breathing problem, says his father Rajvinder. He must also be shifted frequently to avoid bed sores.

Despite his difficulties, Arshdeep has made some great strides, says his dad.

During his long stay in hospital, he kept up his school studies and now attends Eugene Reimer Middle with his peers.

The school has made a number of renovations - including a hoist and a small private space - to its multi-purpose room so Arshdeep can meet some of his medical needs while in the building.

Rajvinder says his son is a quick learner, which helped him master the new skills he must acquire.

Arshdeep, who has no sensation below his neck, uses his mouth to manipulate a control stick for his computer and powered wheelchair.
Arshdeep's injuries have not diminished his passion for sports.

The Canucks fan's room is plastered with hockey paraphernalia, including a stick signed by goalie Roberto Luongo.

Like Luongo, he has also become a crackerjack poker player, says mom Balwinder.

"No one can beat him," she says. "He even beat Michael Bublé when he came to visit in Children's Hospital."

Rajvinder had to abandon his job as a truck driver, as caring for Arshdeep has become a full-time job for both him and his wife.
He doesn't know how he would have managed without help from a number of organizations.

Variety the Children's Charity of British Columbia provided the funds to build a mechanical lift from the garage to the first floor of the house.
It allows Arshdeep easy access to the family home while keeping him safe from the elements.

"Or we would have to build a 27-foot ramp in front of the house," says Rajvinder, who said the family plans to participate in the Variety Show of Hearts Telethon taking place on Jan. 30 and 31.

President's Choice Children's Charity and the Vancouver Foundation also contributed funds that helped pay for other renovations to the house, and the purchase of a specialized vehicle for Arshdeep.

"I couldn't afford all this on my own," says Rajvinder. "I think it's very great in Canada there are these organizations, or it would be very hard to manage our problems. Our life is upside-down now."