Warren Lynam

Brave Marayke faces another major operation in Brisbane

RETIRED Sunshine Coast paralympian Marayke Jonkers is scheduled to undergo major surgery in Brisbane today thanks to what started out as just a callus on her foot a year ago.

An infection which entered her body through the callus has spread into metal rods inserted in Ms Jonkers' back for scoliosis when she was 13.

A surgeon will remove the rods today.

The rod infection was diagnosed only recently but Ms Jonkers now knows in hindsight that what appeared to be a cyst on her back that drove her back and forth from the doctor was a sign of a systemic infection.

"Never in a million years would I have thought that surgery I had when I was 13 and a lump in my back would go together," she said.

Ms Jonkers injured her foot in an accident while taking a trainee assistance dog for a walk last November.

When she went to hospital on November 4 this year to have a cyst on her back cleaned to encourage it to heal, the infection was discovered to have spread down to the bone.

"You know it's not good when the doctor says, 'That didn't go as well as I thought'," she said.

Pathology tests linked the infection to the foot injury.

Ms Jonkers expects to be in intensive care after the surgery but said doctors have told her the procedure comes with many unknowns.

The 34-year-old is approaching the surgery with her typical fighting spirit and has even sourced a special bed to take the pressure off her back during recovery.

Ms Jonkers, who was left a paraplegic after a car accident as a baby, went on to win three Paralympic medals in swimming and these days runs her own charity, Sporting Dreams, supporting other athletes with disabilities

An over-use injury from training forced her into retirement four years ago and meant she needed an electric rather than manual wheelchair.

At the same time she is in hospital, a van is undergoing modifications so that she can drive it.

She said she wanted to thank everyone who had helped.

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