Joshua healing nicely after open heart operation

2018-10-09 15:45
St Anne’s ICU nurse Nelly Dlamini with tiny Joshua Terblanche a day after his open heart surgery.

St Anne’s ICU nurse Nelly Dlamini with tiny Joshua Terblanche a day after his open heart surgery. (Ian Carbutt )

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A two-month-old baby boy underwent emergency three-hour open heart surgery at St Anne’s Hospital to close up a 3 mm to 4 mm hole in his heart, a first for Pietermaritzburg. 

Little Joshua Terblanche was one of a set of premature triplets, born at just 27 weeks old, at the Life Hilton Hospital in August.

One of his siblings died shortly after birth, leaving him and his twin sister, Jesse.

Jesse and Joshua weighed a mere 1,08 kg at birth and were both born with holes in their hearts caused when the ductus arteriosus — a foetal artery connecting the aorta and the pulmonary artery that allows the blood to skip the circulation to the lungs — fails to close after birth.

The open hole is called a patent ductus arteriosus or PDA and can result in a baby not getting enough oxygen.

While Jesse’s heart healed by itself, Joshua’s heart needed a little help.

Paediatric cardiac-thoracic surgeon, Dr Krubin Naidoo, who is based at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, flew from Johannesburg to close up the PDA. “Premature babies have a higher risk factor for PDA and when the babies are younger than 27 weeks the success rate can drop from around 80% to 30%,” Naidoo said.

“In this case the procedure was successful. He was a very good candidate and he is now stable.

“I hope that he will recover successfully and that this operation will give him the push he needs to get well and go home.”

Joshua and Jesse were born after their mother, Joan, was rushed in an ambulance from her home in Kokstad to Life Hilton Hospital.

Jesse remains in the ICU at Life Hilton, but Joshua was moved to Netcare St Anne’s Hospital for his heart operation.

“I have been sitting with him since Friday and I was able to hold him on Sunday before the operation. I have not been able to pick him up but I am dying to just hold him,” said Terblanche.

“I am relieved the operation is over and the doctors say he is doing well. I just want to take both my babies home now.

“Both Dr Naidoo and Dr Tashmin Bisseru have been so amazing and I am so happy that Dr Naidoo was willing to fly to Pietermaritzburg from Johannesburg for the operation.

“It has been a really difficult time but premature babies are always fighters and I have to be strong for them too.”

Terblanche said she had “very supportive friends and family” and that the Kokstad community had also been very helpful. “I just cannot wait to have them home and healthy.

“We have been lucky to have received such amazing healthcare from St Anne’s Hospital and Life Hilton Hospital,” said Terblanche.

St Anne’s Hospital spokesperson Shubnum Ismail said the surgery was done at St Anne’s to prevent any risks that might have come from transferring the baby to a Johannesburg hospital for the surgery.

She said it was a privilege to have had Naidoo fly to Pietermaritzburg to perform the operation and that the hospital was able to accommodate the operation.

“We thank Dr Naidoo for flying to the City of Choice to perform the operation and all the other staff involved in helping with the emergency.

“St Anne’s would also like to wish the Terblanche family all the best.”


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  miracle operation

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