Meet Baby Zee, the 11-month-old with a heart that 'leaks blood'

By Mieke Vlok
30 March 2016

"Zee's smile will just melt your heart - everyone who looks at her falls in love. But now she is in so much pain."

She was her parents' 'miracle baby', their only child after a string of devastating miscarriages.

So Nelspruit's Inocent and Lorraine Makuwaza dote on little Zinhle, who was born in February last year.

But they soon realised something was amiss with their precious Zee.

“We first found out about our daughter's health issues three months after she was born. Her heart rate was very fast and she was also breathing very fast. She would sweat a lot while she was sleeping and she was not gaining weight,” her father, Inocent, tells YOU.

Zee's doting parents realised soon after her birth that all was not well with their little girl. PHOTO: Supplied Zee's doting parents realised soon after her birth that all was not well with their little girl. PHOTO: Supplied

It was only when Zee was six months old that doctors discovered she has three openings in her heart as well as a single heart valve instead of two. As a result, little Zee's heart "leaks" blood.

“Her heart was mixing blood in all its chambers - this put severe pressure on her lungs,” her father explains from the family’s home in Nelspruit. “She then developed severe Pulmonary Artery Hypertension, which is fatal.”

Zee and her dad Inocent. PHOTO: Supplied Zee and her dad Inocent. PHOTO: Supplied

Lorraine, a teacher, opened up to the Mirror in the UK, where Zee's plight also made headlines, on the challenges they face.

"She is our only child. I had three miscarriages before her in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This is our miracle baby, but she has all these problems. It's very hard.”

The family had a small victory when Zee survived dangerous open heart surgery in India in February of this year. The marathon operation was done in India since it is cheaper there and her parents were racing against the clock to get help.

Zee's mom Lorraine suffered 3 miscarriages before she was born. PHOTO: Supplied Zee's mom Lorraine suffered 3 miscarriages before she was born. PHOTO: Supplied

“It was a high risk surgery and the surgeons almost didn't want to operate. They said that if we had waited for another month, she was going to become inoperable,” adds Inocent.

Zee needs another round of surgery to fix her health issues and is currently on oxygen support at the Makuwaza’s home in Nelspruit. Her parents travel the 384 kilometres to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg for her bimonthly check-ups.

“We have started raising money for Zee’s second operation,” her father says. Zee’s first operation was made possible thanks to benefactors who helped raise R210 000.

IMG-20151108-WA0002 Zee’s first operation was made possible thanks to benefactors who helped raise R210 000. PHOTO: Supplied

“I am very happy my little princess is back home. Seeing all the tubes around my baby broke my heart. I could only imagine the amount of pain she was going through. I thank the almighty God for keeping me strong. I have no words to express my gratitude to each and every one of you,” Zee’s mother thanked benefactors on a page which has been launched in support of her.

"Zee's smile will just melt your heart - everyone who looks at her falls in love. But now she is in so much pain. We are very desperate,” Zee’s mother also said to The Daily Mail.

Anyone who is able to help Zee, can pledge funds via the Go Fund Me page which has been set up for her.

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