Little Tayla Grace, PMB’s heart baby, ready for surgery

2010-07-21 00:00

AFTER months of tense anticipation, little Tayla Grace Geddes has reached 3,5 kilograms and will be airlifted to Johannesburg early this morning where she will undergo open heart surgery.

The tiny girl was born — four months ago — with three holes in her heart and a missing septum. Her heart was unable to separate oxygenated and deoxygenated blood and, as a result, she has lived most of her short life at the Pietermaritzburg Medi-Clinic.

Doctors and specialists generally perform open heart surgery on babies only once they have reached five kilograms.

A special concession was made for Tayla Grace because her condition is so severe. For the past month her weight fluctuated as she contracted rotavirus and flu, but for the past week she has been a steady 3,5 kilograms — the weight doctors said she should reach before undergoing the surgery.

Tayla’s mother, Heather Geddes, will travel with her when she is airlifted to Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg.

There, doctors will assess the baby’s health and determine if she is strong enough to undergo all the surgery at once, or if the procedures need to be staggered to allow time for her small body to recover.

She is expected to be operated on in the next few days.

Geddes, who has lived by her daughter’s bedside in the Medi-Clinic for about two months said the time ahead will be an emotional one.

“I am going to have to get used to the very strict visiting hours at Sunninghill. It’s going to be a big adjustment, but it is what we have been praying for. The sooner she has had her operation the sooner I can go home and show her off to the world,” Geddes said.

Tayla’s father, Peter Hamberger, left Pietermaritzburg yesterday to meet mother and daughter in Johannesburg when they arrive this morning.

Before leaving Pietermaritzburg, Geddes ensured Tayla was dedicated at an intimate ceremony in the Medi-Clinic paediatric unit’s courtyard.

“I’ve got a very strong faith, and she had to be dedicated. We committed her to the Lord. We have already seen the many miracles he has worked through her.”

Geddes added that the Wesley Methodist Church congregation has been wonderful in providing support and prayer for the family.

After the first article about Tayla appeared in The Witness, Geddes said she was overwhelmed by the love and support she received.

“Since the article I’ve seen the whole community come together. I was walking in Checkers and a complete stranger said, ‘You’re baby Tayla’s mom!’ and just gave me a big hug,” Geddes said smiling.

She added that donations from kind — and sometimes anonymous — readers have ensured she has funds available for Tayla’s post-operative care.

Although Tayla is significantly smaller than other children her age, Geddes said her daughter is a livewire.

“She is full of smiles and is quite feisty. She is even getting a little pout on her! She is very responsive — she makes so many noises and loves to move around,” she said.

Geddes said she is eternally grateful to everyone who has contributed towards Tayla’s treatment.

“If it gets to a point where I have funds left over, I want to be there for other mothers who need financial assistance for their children,” she said.

Hamberger has set up a trust fund for his daughter. He can be contacted at 072 192 9860.

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