Ruveshni gets new lease of life

2019-08-20 06:01
Justine Lewis with her daughter Ruveshni.

Justine Lewis with her daughter Ruveshni.

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A cutting-edge medical procedure was done on a six-year-old patient from George at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on Wednesday 31 July. This unique cardiac intervention was the first for the African continent, and only the third completed globally.

Ruveshni Lewis was born with one heart ventricle, which resulted in her heart not being able to pump oxygen-poor blood (“blue blood”) back to her lungs.

In two previous operations, cardiac surgeons were able to divert blue blood through a conduit directly to the lungs, without it having to pass through the missing ventricle.

After the second operation, a complication required that she had to undergo an emergency operation. During that operation a “window” that was made between the conduit and her heart was too large, allowing too much blue blood back into her heart. This resulted in her having very low oxygen saturations (being very blue).

Paediatric cardiologist Prof Rik De Decker explained the hospital’s catheterisation laboratory (cath lab) team implanted a device, an atrial flow restrictor (AFR), between one of the heart chambers and the conduit to reduce the window’s size from 10mm to 4mm, the more normal size.

“This is a new device, recently developed in Sweden, and it’s not even on the market yet. It’s currently undergoing registration in Europe and we got it on a compassionate-use basis (free).

“It has a hole inside, like a blow-off hole to allow some blood to go through. After undergoing six previous procedures, the implantation of the AFR effectively means that Ruveshni won’t need to undergo difficult repeat surgery for this problem, which is wonderful news,” said De Decker.

Ruveshni is currently stable and recovering well after the procedure.

Ruveshni’s mother, Justine Lewis is delighted with her recovery. “Mentally and physically she’s a playful child, she wasn’t like that, she couldn’t play long, she couldn’t walk long distances, she would always complain about getting tired too easily but that has all changed,” she said.

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