Dad cries with relief after 7-year-old son gets new heart

2016-07-20 07:25
Phalo Gayiya, 7, who received a new heart on Monday after being on the waiting list for 4 months. (credit: Worcester Charity Biker Group)

Phalo Gayiya, 7, who received a new heart on Monday after being on the waiting list for 4 months. (credit: Worcester Charity Biker Group)

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Cape Town – Nerves were on edge as a 7-year-old boy in Cape Town waited in a hospital theatre for a donor heart to arrive on Monday.

After a plane delay and an ambulance rush, Phalo Gayiya received his Mandela Day gift: a new heart and a solid chance at life.

- Health24: Heart Transplants

His parents were overcome with emotion when they heard the operation at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Hospital had been a success.

"I was so emotional, I started crying," father Thapelo Ramasesane told News24 on Tuesday, after visiting his sedated son twice in his ICU ward.

"I don't know what to think or say or do. He has been in and out of hospital many times. We have been hoping and praying for him to get a heart."

Gayiya was put on the waiting list for a heart after being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart) in March. His doctors were not entirely sure what caused it.

Concerns over window period

Around 11:30 on Sunday, a sleeping Ramasesane got a phone call to say a possible donor heart had been found in Pretoria.

"I was happy and scared at the same time because it is a huge operation," he admitted. 
The family, from De Doorns, rushed him to Cape Town.

Hospital spokesperson Michelle Norris said the boy was prepared for surgery with Dr Susan Vosloo around 11:00 on Monday and waited as the plane flew the precious cargo from Johannesburg. The aircraft was held up momentarily, raising concerns about the window period for the donor heart staying viable without oxygen running out.

"The flight was delayed for around 20 minutes due to strong winds. They were expecting to get to the hospital around 13:30 to 13:45," said Norris.

The emergency services team sprang into action.

Doing 'exceptionally' well

"They communicated to say 'the heart has arrived, we are on our way, we have just got onto the N2 and will be there soon'. It felt like five minutes that it took them to get here," said Norris.

The heart arrived at the hospital around 14:30.

"Phalo is doing exceptionally well. He is still in our kid's ICU and will probably be ventilated and only woken up tomorrow morning," said Norris.

The medical team was happy with his progress.

Ramasesane and his wife, Nombulelo Gayiya, had not yet had a chance to talk to the doctor and get more details on the donor.

They said their Mandela Day was a truly special one.

One day at a time

"He is looking good. There are lots of wires and machines, but everything is fine," the exhausted father said.

"Recovery takes three to four months."

They hoped he would be able to start school in January.

He did not wish any parent to go through what they had experienced.

"It was not easy for my wife in the beginning, but we became stronger and stronger. He is a strong boy - he will just smile and say, 'I am fine. I will be okay'. We took it one day at a time."

- Health24: Heart transplant: What to expect

Read more on:    cape town  |  health  |  good news

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