January 12, 2016 1:38 pm

Edmonton teen’s custom wheelchair found after it vanished last week

The family of a teen whose wheelchair went missing from outside her hospital room said it has been found.

Courtesy/Brittney Zawada

EDMONTON — The family of an Edmonton teen whose wheelchair went missing from outside her hospital room said it has been found.

Michelle St Pierre told Global News a nurse practitioner found her daughter Brittney Zawada’s custom-made wheelchair in a corner of the University of Alberta Hospital around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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“It doesn’t seem like there’s any damage and it’s still functional,” she said.

The timing of the discovery brings relief to the family. The 18-year-old is set to be released from the hospital on Wednesday.

The family had initially said they did not know what to do if the wheelchair was not found, since they do not have another wheelchair for the teen to use and couldn’t afford a new one.

Zawada was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Spina bifida is a condition where a defect causes permanent damage to the spinal cord and nervous system.

Zawada depends on her wheelchair to get around and be self-sufficient.

She received a customized, specially-ordered wheelchair approximately eight months ago. The seat cushion, backrest and feet straps were made to fit her body. The wheelchair is worth roughly $4,000.

The teen was admitted to the University of Alberta Hospital on Dec. 28. There wasn’t enough space in her shared hospital room for the wheelchair, so it had to be left in the hallway. Last Thursday, the family went to get it and it wasn’t there.

For Zawada, losing her chair was like losing her freedom.

St Pierre said the hospital provided the family with another chair in the interim, but it wasn’t ideal as it left the teen more susceptible to pressure sores. The return of her customized wheelchair is a huge relief for the family.

“I just want to thank Global first and foremost for all they’ve done and for all the people who have gone out of their way to show their kindness,” St Pierre said.

“Thank you to the hospital security and nurse practitioner Wendy Beaudoin. I know we’ve had an outpouring from people right out of the hospital, friends, family who have been watching this story. We are so humbled by the outpouring of support.”

St Pierre said her daughter is elated the wheelchair has been found. They plan on keeping the wheelchair in her hospital room until she is discharged.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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