'We're running out of time' - family starts crowdfunding campaign for girl, 3, for surgery in USA

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Kyleigh Kista was diagnosed with a complex heart defect when she was born.
Kyleigh Kista was diagnosed with a complex heart defect when she was born.
  • The family of three-year-old Kyleigh has started a crowdfunding campaign.
  • Kyleigh was diagnosed with a complex heart defect when she was born.
  • Her family is trying to raise funds for open heart surgery, which will be done in the USA.

Left with a time span of three months, the desperate family of three-year-old Kyleigh Milana Kista, who was born with a complex, congenital heart defect, has started a crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign is to raise funds for the surgery she needs.

According to Kyleigh's mother, Serina Kista, 37, the doctors did not pick up her daughter's condition during her pregnancy. The extreme diagnosis was, however, made after Kyleigh started turning blue.

She was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, VSD and MAPCAs. 

She struggles to get rich, oxygenated blood to circulate through her body because she was born with an absent pulmonary valve, underdeveloped arteries and a large hole in her heart.

Currently, Kyleigh survives on two collateral arteries, which is her main source of blood circulation. 

Having had her first surgery when she was two-and-a-half months old, doctors have attempted nine surgical procedures on Kyleigh since birth.  

Kista said it has been years of going back and forth, with doctors trying to get a unifocalisation procedure done for Kyleigh.

"One surgeon sat us down and told us that Kyleigh's condition was very complex and suggested that a transplant be done, but he was not very clear, which left us confused," said Kista.

She added that they received a second opinion from an eThekwini-based surgeon, who suggested a heart-lung transplant, and also said they should try and reach out to surgeons in the USA as help could not be found in South Africa.

Kista reached out to the Boston Children's Hospital in the USA for a second opinion after she read a post from a lady who had a good review about the hospital.

Kyleigh and her mother Serina Kista (Supplied)

"We prayed to God to let this be the one chance where our little girl gets the assistance that we need," added Kista.

According to Kista and her husband, Gerald, 40, they had estimated the cost of the surgery to be approximately $120 000.

"Last Thursday, we received the quote, and my husband and I were shaking from disbelief that we need $295 761 [R4.7 million] for the open heart surgery.

"We started calculating the amount we'd raise if we sold our cars, house and furniture, but we still could not come up with the amount," she added.

READ | Pet pig attack: Crowdfunding campaign launched to pay medical bill of injured boy

Kista resorted to starting a crowdfunding campaign on Backabuddy, where she asked people to help raise funds for Kyleigh's surgery.

"So far, we have raised  R250 000 from the campaign and our family and friends have also been very supportive. However, some of our friends have told us that some people did not believe that the story was real, given the large amount we were asking for."

Kista has added quotations from the doctors, as proof, on the pageBackabuddy.

Kista added that the Boston Children's Hospital was their only hope for Kyleigh's condition because she needs urgent help within the next three months.

She said:

We're running out of time, and we will accept any help that people may contribute to the surgery.

The costs will only cover Kyleigh's surgery, excluding post-surgery costs, flights and accommodation.

However, through their agony, Kista described Kyleigh as a "ray of sunshine that's always smiling".

"She has been so brave through the journey. She understands that she is sick, even on the days that I am feeling at my lowest, she encourages me, and says, 'mommy don't be sad, I will be okay'."

Without having any formal education, due to her health, Kyleigh has taught herself 30 nursery rhymes, which she knows by heart.

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