Cardiologists give hope

2015-05-13 06:00
A team from the University of the Free State School for Medicine work daily unremittingly to save the lives of young children who have been born with heart defects by carrying out highly specialised interventions and operations on them. One of the ch

A team from the University of the Free State School for Medicine work daily unremittingly to save the lives of young children who have been born with heart defects by carrying out highly specialised interventions and operations on them. One of the ch

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ABOUT two months ago, Bonizile Ketso was not sure how much longer her six-month-old baby, Montsheng, would live. This was when she got the news that her baby had been born with a rare and serious heart defect and that her heart had already been seriously damaged.

“She was very ill. I thought my baby was going to die. Montsheng became sick early in February. I thought it was a tight chest or a cold and took her to the clinic. A week later she was still very ill.”

The doctor at the clinic referred Ketso to Prof. Stephen Brown, a paediatric cardiologist at the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Universitas Hospital.

Here tests showed that Motsheng had been born with a rare, serious defect of the coronary artery, preventing the left ventricle from receiving enough blood to pump to the rest of the body.

This means that the heart muscle can suffer damage because these children essentially experience a heart attack at a very young age.

In a healthy heart, the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium. Then the left ventricle pumps this oxygen-rich blood to the aorta whence it flows to the rest of the body.

The heart muscle normally receives blood supply from the oxygenated aorta blood, which in this case cannot happen.

Brown immediately got his skilled team together as quickly as possible to diagnose the condition in order to operate on Montsheng.

During the operation, the blood flow was restored, but since Montsheng’s heart muscle was seriously damaged, the heart was unable to contract at the end of the operation.

She was then linked to a heart-lung machine to allow the heart to rest and to give the heart muscle a chance to recover.

The entire team of technologists and the dedicated anaesthetist, Dr Edwin Turton, kept a vigil, day and night, for several days.

Prof. Francis Smit, chief specialist at the UFS Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, explains that without this operation Montsheng would not have been able to celebrate her first birthday.

“After the surgery, these children can reach adulthood without further operations.

“Within two to three months after the operation, she will have a normal, active life, although for the first six months she will still use medication.

“Thereafter, she will be tip-top and will shortly learn to crawl and to walk.”

Ketso is looking forward enormously to seeing her daughter stand up and take her first steps. A dream she thought would not come true

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