MY STORY | For 17 years my son had a hole in his heart, then he had life-changing surgery

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Sindiswa Dayile with her youngest son, Zithobile, who was born with a hole in his heart. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Sindiswa Dayile with her youngest son, Zithobile, who was born with a hole in his heart. (PHOTO: Supplied)

No parent wants to witness their child in pain, let alone see them suffer a serious illness but that is exactly what Sindiswa Dayile has had to endure. Her youngest son, Zithobile, was born with a hole in his heart and needed life-saving surgery.

Over the past few years, the 56-year-old mom from Wilmer Township in the Eastern Cape spent sleepless nights worried that something might happen to her youngest son before he got the operation he needed. But this year she got the news she'd been waiting for: Zithobile (18) had been booked for surgery.

Sindiswa shares her story. 

“My son was born in 2004. As a baby, he constantly had flu and would cough a lot.

When he was six months old, I took him to the local clinic. They referred me to a hospital where he was diagnosed with ventricular septal defect, which means he was born with a hole in his heart.

I was told he would be put on the waiting list but he didn't need an operation right away as the hole might naturally close with time.

heart surgery, flight, son, mom
Mom and son on their first flight ever. They flew to the Western Cape where Zithobile had his surgery. (PHOTO: Supplied)

When he turned one, he started having nosebleeds more often. It used to worry me so much.

I used to work as a domestic worker but now I'm unemployed. My partner, Zithobile’s father, is a builder but he’s also unemployed. Whenever our son had a nosebleed or needed a checkup, we would have to ask people for money. We hated asking for handouts, but we did what we needed to do to take care of our son.

Zithobile never wanted us to treat him any differently to his three siblings because of his heart condition. But whenever he played soccer with his friends, I worried. The hole in his heart and the constant nosebleeds were a grave concern. 

When he was 14, he went for another routine checkup. His doctor said he needed surgery to have the hole in his heart closed.

She contacted Wings and Wishes and the Pelo Foundation for help. Both NPOs assist disadvantaged children to get the heart operations they so desperately need. But the waiting list was so long that it'd take another three years before he finally got the surgery.

Earlier this year we were notified that Zithobile would get the surgery at Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital in the Western Cape. Arrangements were made for us to fly to Cape Town.

I was so happy, but I was also scared that the operation would go wrong.

It was also the first time we'd ever taken a flight. We were both nervous about getting on the plane but it went well. 

Zithobile was wheeled into the operating theatre on 7 February this year. I was so scared; I prayed and hoped for the best. 

heart sugery, ventricular septal defect
It's been a long wait but the teen finally had the hole in his heart closed. (PHOTO: Supplied)

He spent a little over a week recovering at the hospital. He was in ICU or the first two days, so I was relieved when I finally saw him. 

It's been a few weeks since the operation and Zithobile is on the road to recovery at home. He hasn't experienced any more nosebleeds or coughing.

Zithobile is in matric this year and will return to school six weeks after his operation. Though he receives his homework from school, he's looking forward to returning in the second term so he can see his friends.

After matric, he wants to study law or IT. Unfortunately, we don’t have the means to pay for tertiary education but he'll apply to NSFAS for funding.

After all the years I spent rushing him to the clinic, I’m happy he's on the mend. I know he now has a future ahead of him. He's promised to buy me a house one day and I hope that he'll be able to. 

For now, we're looking forward to another milestone in his life when in December he'll be going to initiation school. We're so excited that we're already preparing.” 

heart sugery, ventricular septal defect
Now he is looking forward to completing matric and later attending initiation school. (PHOTO: Supplied)

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