'Mommy, I'm happy, I have a heart now!': Life-changing ops for 2 Eastern Cape children

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Cayson Jude Cerfonteyn
Cayson Jude Cerfonteyn
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  • Two Eastern Cape children received early Christmas gifts in the form of life-saving heart surgeries. 
  • Sheronique Alysha Mengie, 6, and Cayson Jude Cerfonteyn, 10, have been on the heart surgery list for several years. 
  • The Pelo Foundation say in the Eastern Cape more than 200 children are on the waiting list for heart surgery. 

Two Eastern Cape children have something to smile about this Christmas after receiving life-saving heart operations that will change their lives.

Six-year-old Sheronique Alysha Mengie and 10-year-old Cayson Jude Cerfonteyn both from Gqeberha, were discharged from Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital in the Western Cape, last Saturday, after having operations to repair the holes in their tiny hearts.

The operations were made possible by the Pelo Foundation, a non-profit organisation that raises funds and awareness for children in serious need of heart treatment and surgery.

The surgery would also not have happened without non-profit organisation Wings and Wishes, another key partner of Pelo Foundation dedicated to transporting critical and chronically-ill children and their guardians to Busamed Healthcare Hospitals and back home.

Cayson's jubilant mom Janice said her son was doing well after the surgery.  

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"I am very excited that my boy finally received the surgery that will change his life. Cayson was operated on a few days ago and he is doing well. Before going to hospital, we explained the surgery to him as best we could, but he was quite scared and our family was nervous about the operation as well," she said.  

Recalling her son's first words after being wheeled out of the operating theatre, Janice said Cayson shouted: 

Mommy, I'm happy, I have a heart now!

Janice said: "I laughed and told him that he always had a heart." 

She recalled the long and dreadful journey that came after discovering that Cayson's heart had a fault at six-months-old. 

"He has been on the heart surgery waiting list for five years. I was always worried because I could not afford to pay for his surgery," she said.

"I would like to thank everyone who made his operation possible. I am the only breadwinner and have three children. Before he was operated on, he used to play a lot, but he would constantly stop and complain about a painful chest."

For Sheronique Alysha Mengie, it had also been a bitter battle having been on the waiting list for heart surgery all her life. 

Her unemployed mother, Selwynessa Renzia Mengie, said she was grateful to the foundation.

"Sheronique was always in and out of hospital because of her heart condition. We discovered that she has a heart problem when she was two-months-old and since then she was put on the heart surgery waiting list," she said. 

"I would like to thank everyone for assisting to save my baby's life. Since she underwent surgery, she is getting naughtier every day, which means she is getting better! Now she looks well and ready to go to school next year," said Mengie.  

heart surgery
Sheronique Alysha Mengie and her mother Selwynessa Renzia Mengie.
News24 Supplied

A doctor who was part of the operating team, Adele Greyling, a paediatric cardiologist, said she was excited that both operations went well. 

"They had holes in their hearts and we have managed to fix that. After leaving the hospital, we will continue to monitor their progress," said Greyling. 

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The Pelo Foundation said the Eastern Cape had more than 200 children on the list for heart surgery, while across South Africa hundreds more children were also waiting.

It's estimated that one out of every 1 000 babies was born with congenital heart disease and that every six hours a newborn was added to the list.  

Sheronique and Cayson were two of three Eastern Cape children who received the life-changing surgeries through the Pelo Foundation in 2021.

The first beneficiary was a six-year-old girl who underwent heart surgery a few months ago.  

Michael Janson, cardiothoracic surgeon from Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital, said if these children, born with severe heart conditions, did not receive immediate medical intervention, they could suffer further health complications or may die.  

"I hope that there will be many entities that will come forward and collaborate so that we may assist in saving more lives," said Janson.  

Busamed group clinical manager Christelle de Jager added that the group was proud to partner with the Pelo Foundation in making a difference to these young lives.  

"These surgeries contribute to the growth of our paediatric cardiology units and we hope to continue to grow and assist many more children by contributing to improving their quality of life," she said.    


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