FEEL GOOD | Eight-month-old Pretoria boy recovering after heart surgery

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Baby Muhammad Noor Ismail recently received a life-saving heart operation sponsored by Medipost Holdings and the Netcare Foundation at the state-of-the-art Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. The team of specialists who performed the surgery gave their services pro bono. He is recovering well after the procedure to correct a hole in the heart. He is pictured with his mother, Sana Maher, a few days after surgery.
Baby Muhammad Noor Ismail recently received a life-saving heart operation sponsored by Medipost Holdings and the Netcare Foundation at the state-of-the-art Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. The team of specialists who performed the surgery gave their services pro bono. He is recovering well after the procedure to correct a hole in the heart. He is pictured with his mother, Sana Maher, a few days after surgery.
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  • Eight-month-old Muhammad Noor Ismail is on the road to recovery after undergoing surgery to fix a large hole in his heart.
  • He is the latest beneficiary of Netcare hospital's Heart-to-Heart campaign.
  • Healthcare companies and top medical specialists teamed up to ensure the little boy got the life-saving surgery he needed.

An eight-month-old baby boy is back home after undergoing a life-saving operation to fix a large hole in his little heart.

Healthcare companies and top medical scientists teamed up to ensure Muhammad Noor Ismail from Erasmia, Pretoria, received the urgent surgery needed at the cardiothoracic centre at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.

Muhammad Noor's mother, Sana Maher, said she started noticing he was congested and was not feeding well when he was just two weeks old.

"At first, we tried some of the recommended home remedies. When he didn't improve, we took him to the doctor, and when he still wasn't thriving, we were very worried that there could be something wrong with our baby's heart," she said.

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Baby Muhammad Noor is the latest beneficiary of Netcare hospital's Heart-to-Heart campaign, a corporate social investment (CSI) match funding challenge by the Netcare Foundation and Medipost Holdings, for operations to disadvantaged children with life-threatening heart conditions by specialists at the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute.

Doctors had suspected that Muhammad Noor had a heart defect when he was first referred to Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria and from there to Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Baby Muhammad Noor Ismail recently received a life
Muhammad Noor Ismail pictured with his mother, Sana Maher, a few days after surgery.
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According to Dr Erich Schürmann, cardiothoracic surgeon and co-founder of the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute, Muhammad Noor was diagnosed with ventricular septal defect (VSD), or a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of his heart, earlier this year. 

"It was not clear at first how badly his tiny heart was affected, but it soon became evident that the hole was so large that it would likely become debilitating, potentially even life-threatening, if not corrected soon," he said.

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Schürmann said as a child grows, this type of heart defect damages the arteries of the lungs, and a specialised procedure would be required as soon as possible to correct it.

"Sadly, there is a considerable waiting list for such resource-intensive procedures, and when we heard about Muhammad Noor's condition, we were determined to find a way to assist," he added.

Maher said it became harder for them to get Muhammad Noor the operation he needed.

"We aren't on medical aid, and at times it felt like there was little hope. Interventional paediatric cardiologist Prof Lindy Mitchell at Steve Biko assisted with the application, and soon we got the good news that he was accepted for surgery at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. We couldn't believe it," she said.  

Baby Muhammad Noor Ismail recently received a life
Baby Muhammad Noor Ismail at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital a few days after surgery.
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Dr Schürmann, fellow cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Hendrick Mamorare of the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute, paediatric cardiologist Dr Kenny Govendrageloo, anaesthetist Dr Krishnee Naidoo and cardiac perfusionist Mogotsi Mophosho, who all practise at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, conducted the surgery pro bono. They provided specialised procedure and care. The cost for theatre and hospital care was covered by Medipost and the Netcare Foundation.

"Thank goodness the operation went well. He is recovering quickly and was back home after a few days. Muhammad Noor and I had never been apart before, and now that he is home and the hole in his heart has been repaired, it is such a relief. I cannot express my gratitude," said Maher."God sent angels to look after our baby boy. The doctors and nurses both at Steve Biko and Netcare Sunninghill Hospital were wonderful, and it was very reassuring to know he was in such good hands at the hospital."

Maher thanked all the healthcare workers involved in her son's operation. "Everyone will always be in our prayers."

Mande Toubkin, general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and CSI at Netcare and a trustee of the Netcare Foundation, said they were grateful to the medical team who donated their time and expertise pro bono, as well as the nursing staff.

"It is deeply rewarding to invest in the future of a child, and there can be no greater return than seeing a family so relieved and the bright eyes of a healthy baby with a whole lifetime of opportunities ahead. Many more children with serious heart defects are in need of similar operations," she said.


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