DOCTOR Nerissa Pather's passion for saving lives is a mission that continues despite it having put hers at such risk she's now unable to do anything for herself without the help of others.
Though Pather's medical practice ended tragically after she contracted drug-resistant TB meningitis eight years ago, which left her a paraplegic, she still brings hope to others afflicted by damaging diseases.
She contracted the disease while doing community service training at a the KwaMashu Clinic. She was 26 at the time.
Her plight caught the KZN provincial health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo's attention after being flighted on the SABC'S Special Assignment programme. Special Assignment had turned the spotlight on healthcare workers who had become infected with TB while caring for patients.
Dhlomo had paid a visit to Pather and her family in Umhlanga Rocks on Friday when he vowed to help the mother of one.
Dhlomo told the family: "The story of Pather has been an eye-opener for me and the department.
"Here a young woman full of passion to serve the people is now in need of care that she was called to do. Her patients came first.
"She was willing to sacrifice her own well-being for the sake of her patients," Dhlomo said.
He said unsafe working conditions contributed to healthcare worker attrition due to work-related illness and injury.
"This results in fear among healthcare workers of occupational infections, including HIV and Tuberculosis, " Dhlomo told Pather's family and the media
He acknowledged his department's mistake in processing Pather's workmen's compensation. He said her removal from the payroll system will be corrected.
Pather's husband, Shane, a medical doctor, said he believed that "God had a plan".
"Everything I could ask for is around me - my wife is alive and I am grateful to the MEC for this," he said. "I pray that others don't experience what we endured,
" I know how devastating TB can be. I see it in my own practice. I see so many TB patients who discharge themselves from government hospitals to come to me," Pather said.