Second life for KZN toddlers

2011-11-11 00:00

FIVE children from KwaZulu-Natal whose lives were at risk because they were born with heart defects were successfully operated on at Johannesburg’s Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in July.

The operations were made possible by a R1 million donation from the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund to the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation (WSPCF).

The foundation, established in 2003 which focuses on delivering life-saving surgery for underprivileged children with congenital heart disorders from across the continent.

Asande Cele (six) of Pietermaritzburg, Deesha Maharaj (two) of Stanger, Asimbonge Mthethwa (two) of Vryheid, Minenthle Mlambo (two) from Harding and Philisiwe Ndwandwe (six) of Zululand celebrated their successful operations with a party at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban yesterday.

Asande and Minenthle were born with ventricular septal defects (holes in the heart) and a blocked valve.

Deesha and Asimbonge had tetralogy of fallot defect (oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood simultaneously pumped out of the heart and into the circulatory system of the blood vessels).

Philisiwe was diagnosed with a congenital defect in the structure of the heart and great vesselsat the age of two.

Asande’s condition was diagnosed when he was a few days old, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that he could benefit from the surgery.

Said his mother, Zamakhosi Cele, “Asande could never walk with us, he was always blue around the mouth, and was sick with flu so often.”

She said that since his surgery he runs around with the other children and does everything that they do.

“He’s such a big soccer fan that he wants to play for Orlando Pirates one day.

“He would never have been able to have this dream if it wasn’t for the surgery. I am so grateful to the doctors who fixed him,” said Cele.

The foundation’s chief executive, Lynda Bleazard, said it was a blessing to receive the donation.

She said one in every 100 children born globally is born with a heart defect.

“Ninety-five percent of these defects can be easily corrected with surgery, but only one percent of African children have access to any form of medical funding to pay the approximately R170 000 it costs in the private healthcare sector to save each life.

“We work closely with public and private hospitals to spread the benefits of our funding and research work as widely as possible,” she said.

Mary-Jane Morifi of Anglo American Platinum said they chose to donate money as the foundation had a holistic approach to saving lives, both through surgery for indigent children and through skills development in government hospitals.

Inkosi Albert Luthuli chief executive Dr Sifiso Mtshali said the hospital has the capacity to perform life-saving heart surgery on about 150 children each year, but the waiting list is a further 150 children, and continues to grow.

•chris.ndaliso@witness.co.za

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