By Meghan Lawrence
A 7-year-old girl whose heart had stopped was brought back to life by doctors after a tragic car crash that killed her father.
Nivarna Badman was put on life support and spent 10 days in a coma, missing her own father's funeral, after the three-car smash on September 2.
She suffered head injuries, multiple fractures, lost sight in one eye and was left with an indentation in her skull.
Doctors told her mother, Nicole Badman, the shy but cheeky little girl might not live.
But despite suffering serious head injuries she defied the odds and has now regained consciousness. She faces a long road to recovery but at least she's alive.
Nivarna had been travelling to Oamaru with her father, Daniel Anderson, in his prized Holden HQ when the pair crashed.
Badman believes they had been on their way to visit Nivarna's grandmother's grave.
The crash happened on State Highway 1 about 10km south of Timaru. Six people were hospitalised and two children suffered critical injuries. Police are investigating the crash.
Nivarna was flown to Christchurch Hospital after going into cardiac arrest and being revived by Timaru Hospital staff.
Anderson, 40, died from his injuries shortly after.
Badman was informed of the crash about three hours later and police rushed her to Christchurch Hospital.
"It was lights and sirens the whole way and I didn't know what I was coming to. I was so anxious and scared about it all.
"I was met by all these doctors and police. They told me she might not live."
Badman was given five minutes to see her daughter before Nivarna was whisked into a six-hour brain operation.
"She had a compression fracture to her skull, which isn't just a crack, the bones were indented right into the brain," Badman said.
Nivarna was then placed on life support and put into an induced coma.
"She is awake now but she sustained a broken ankle, two broken femurs and damaged growth plates at the knees so her legs might not grow properly anymore," Badman said.
"She has an external fixator on one leg, which has big steel rods going into the bone to keep them in place, and then the other leg is completely cast from the toes right up to the hip.
"Her wrist has wires in it to seal the bones back in place and she has lost vision out of one eye."
Badman was told Nivarna was "lucky to be alive", but despite conquering death she still has a long road to recovery.
"She is obviously bed-bound at the moment and we are expected to be in Christchurch for months of rehabilitation," she said.
"I don't know if she will ever be able to get back on her feet again or return to school. The future is uncertain for her at the moment."
Badman said Nivarna only learned about her father's death five days ago.
"She missed her dad's funeral because she was in a coma," she said.
"She is really upset about it and asking all these questions that I can't answer because I don't know myself. I don't know what happened as I wasn't there."
Nivarna adored her father and loved spending time with him because he always planned exciting activities.
"That day she was looking forward to going with him because she had made him a Father's Day card.
"Afterwards I requested that the card be buried with him because it was the last thing she did for him."
Badman thought the pair had been travelling to Oamaru to visit Anderson's mother's grave.
She said it was rare for him to drive the 1970s Holden HQ, which he bought with money left to him by his late father.
"It was an old car that didn't have retractable seatbelts or airbags but he drove it slow and would never be a lunatic in the car with Nivarna there," she said.
Nivarna had a long road ahead.
"She is a fighter. I didn't think that she would ever wake up but she did."
Nivarna's three siblings are being cared for by their grandmother in Timaru while Badman, a solo mum, tends to her daughter in hospital.
A family friend has set up a Givealittle page to help Badman and family with costs.
A total of $2685 has been raised so far.
Nivarna's Bluestone School held a cat-themed mufti day yesterday to raise money.
"These animals are favourites for Nivarna who is slowly recovering from her serious injuries," the school wrote. "She will love seeing the photos of our students in their special costumes."
Badman said no amount of money would bring back Nivarna's father.
"I would do anything to have my kid at home again, but my daughter was affected really badly and we won't be home for a long time."
To make a donation go to Let's help Nivarna and her family.