Last updated on Feb 10th, 2021 at 09:00 am
Did you know that 1 in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD)? CHD is approximately 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer and 25 times more common than cystic fibrosis. South African children born with CHD are placed on surgical waiting lists, which can be up to 1 000 patients long. Without adequate financing, this often results in years of waiting before they receive the surgical treatment they need, if there is still time.
Despite the fact that CHD’s, once diagnosed, are mostly treatable, more than 3 000 South African children die or remain disabled each year while waiting for surgery. For the rest of Africa, there are an estimated 335 000 annual CHD births, half of whom will die within a few years of birth.
The Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa to the rescue
The Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa saves lives and improves the health of children with congenital heart disease in Africa. They do this by raising funds for heart surgeries and by training specialists and support staff in the field of paediatric cardiac care. They have completed three more life-saving surgeries for African children in the last four months.
We share some of their stories…
Four-year-old Asanda received life-saving heart surgery on 17 July this year. Both the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Community Hospital in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre where the surgery was performed, worked closely together to plan the pre-schooler’s corrective surgery to repair an Atrial Septal Defect and Patent Ductus Arteriosus ligation. Asanda was in the capable hands of the Foundation’s founder and renowned South African paediatric cardiac surgeon, Professor Robin Kinsley.
The surgery was a success
Asanda’s mom, Nokuzol, says that Asanda is happy, healthy and playing for the first time! “She used to struggle to eat well and didn’t have energy. Now she is eating a lot, talking too much and full of energy. It’s been so exciting for me. I want to thank the Foundation, her doctors and God for the work they do in helping other children just like they helped my Asanda,” she said.
Gracious’s second chance
Nine-year-old Gracious from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was sent to the CCFA for a mitral valve repair, but was misdiagnosed by her home country doctor. After much research and several local consultations, Dr Brian Vezi, an adult Electrophysiology Cardiologist was contacted. After examining Gracious, he determined that a cardiac ablation might resolve the underlying cause of her heart issues. Unfortunately, Gracious’s eight-hour procedure ended unsuccessfully, but Drs Brian Vezi, Lutchmi Pillay and Zohra Banoo, who all worked pro-bono on the case, were determined, and performed a second procedure a couple of days later, which, thankfully, was successfully completed in just two hours.
Mom Emelda was overwhelmed by the emotional experience, but incredibly grateful to the doctors who saved her daughter’s life. She was overjoyed to report that Gracious is now sleeping well and unaided for the first time.
Hollyn was just five months old when she received her life-saving surgery at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, sponsored by Netcare, with assistance from The CCFA. The Pinetown-based family had all but lost hope that their little girl would survive when she was diagnosed with two holes in her heart. They said they were incredibly grateful to everyone who stepped in and gave their baby a second chance at life.
How are beneficiaries selected?
The Foundation selects beneficiaries after careful review of each patient’s medical records as well as other selection criteria set by the Foundation. The minimum criteria for all potential beneficiaries are the following:
- The beneficiary must presently be treated in one of the 5 state-run paediatric cardiac facilities in South Africa for congenital heart disease. After completing a funding application form, these patients can be referred to the Foundation’s Panel of Medical Advisors by their current cardiac specialist for inclusion in the beneficiary selection process.
If you would like to assist the foundation, visit their crowd-funding page. No amount is too big or too small.