Jasmine was just six years old when a medical emergency left her with a life-altering injury. It was during her rehabilitation she discovered her extraordinary talent for swimming.
“It happened one afternoon after school,” she remembers. “I was getting these sharp pains in my tummy. At first, we thought it was a bug, but when it wasn’t getting better, we called an ambulance to take me to our local hospital.”
When doctors saw how swollen Jasmine’s stomach was, they quickly identified she had appendicitis. She was soon in theatre for emergency surgery.
During this operation, Jasmine’s doctors discovered her appendix had ruptured. This serious and life-threatening infection sent her little body into septic shock. Jasmine was transferred to Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick for urgent follow up care and spent three weeks closely monitored in ICU. Her mum Chelsea says it was comforting to know her daughter was in the hands of the experts.
“I felt confident and reassured that they were doing everything they possibly could for her.”
Jasmine returned home to Sussex Inlet on the South Coast, but at a routine check-up, the family’s paediatrician noticed concerning signs that she wasn’t back to her usual self. An MRI revealed she had experienced two strokes as a result of the sepsis, leaving her with damage to two separate parts of her brain.
With movement affected on the left-hand side of her body, Jasmine was referred back to Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, where under the special care of her Rehabilitation Doctor, Dr Adrienne Epps, she began her rehab journey.
The family spent several months travelling back and forth for extensive physio and occupational therapy to help Jasmine regain the strength and movement on the left-hand side of her body. This is also when she began swimming.
“I wasn’t always a fish in water. Before the stroke I was really into athletics and dancing. But during rehab, walking was painful, and swimming was really relieving on my joints.”
Out of this, a Paralympic swimming star was born. At the age of just 9, Jasmine was classified as eligible to compete in the S-9 category of para-swimming. By the time she was in year 7, she was competing at National School Championships.
It was awesome,” Jasmine remembers. “I made a bunch of life-long friends and won a bunch of medals, which encouraged me to keep going.”
Since then, Jasmine has gone from strength to strength. After being talent spotted by the head of Australia’s Para-swimming Team, she was invited to a camp with other Paralympic athletes, which built her confidence and ambition.
In Year 8, Jasmine swam for Australia at the Commonwealth Games and in Year 9 she won bronze at the world championships, putting her in the top three in the world in her category.
In 2021, Jasmine was selected for Australia’s Tokyo Paralympics team. She swam in five different events, bringing home silver in the S-10 100 metre butterfly. It’s a remarkable achievement from someone who experienced such a serious and life-threatening medical emergency at such a young age.
Today, Jasmine has her sights set on competing again at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. She has also gained early entry to study Psychological Science and Criminology at University.
While Jasmine still has a persistent tremor in her left arm and leg, and becomes fatigued easily, the future is looking bright for this talented and hard-working young woman and Chelsea says her daughter has the team at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick to thank for that.
“She wouldn’t be where she is today without them. They are an absolutely amazing group of people.”
Last year, thanks to the generosity of our supporters like you, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation funded 32 specialist nurses and allied health professionals including occupational therapists, to help provide the best possible care to sick kids like Jasmine.
By donating to our Light Up Xmas Appeal, can help support kids through rehab and on their journey to recovery. Visit schf.org.au/lightupxmas today to help sick kids like Jasmine achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.