Baby Ashleigh still critical

2010-01-21 09:58

Baby Ashleigh Louw was still in a critical but stable condition in

the intensive care unit of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital today, the

hospital’s clinical manager said.

“This is not unexpected as there are so many other abnormalities

within the heart... it’s just a matter of reviewing her every 24 hours,” Dr

Pungie Lingham said.

The little girl was born with her heart outside her chest, covered

by a thin layer of skin.

“She would not just improve overnight,” Lingham said.

“Her condition has not changed... she is not a normal baby... she

is a very sick child. Various assessments are taking place. There’s intense

monitoring by specialists and super-specialists.”

Surgeons successfully operated on Ashleigh on Sunday. They closed

the internal abdominal wall with a patch and put the heart back in her chest,

although not in its normal position because of fears this could trigger cardiac


Ashleigh’s rare condition is known as Pentalogy of Cantrell, a

congenital abnormality that affects about one in a million babies. The condition

consists of five associated problems, including structural abnormalities of the

heart and defects in the covering of the heart, the diaphragm, sternum

(breastbone) and of the anterior abdominal wall.

Her heart only functions on one valve. The other valve was


Cardiologist Prof Antoinette Cilliers said they would have to

re-channel her blood flow. However, these procedures would only be performed

when she was stronger.

The hospital dismissed claims it had no capacity to deal with such

a complex case.

“We are not short of skills, capacity nor infrastructure,” its

newly appointed chief executive Johanna More told journalists during a visit by

the health minister on Monday.

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