Wait Is Over, Brave Kids Have Heart Ops, Home For Christmas

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Two brave Eastern Cape children have undergone successful heart surgeries and have been able to go home in time to celebrate Christmas with their families.

Six-year-old Sheronique Alysha Mengie and 10-year-old Cayson Jude Cerfonteyn were operated on to repair the holes in their tiny hearts.

Both children were discharged from Busamed Private Hospital in Paardevlei, Western Cape, on Saturday, 18 December 2021.

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

“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,” said the boy’s mother, Janice Cerfonteyn.

“Before going to the 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.

“After coming out from the intensive care unit, he said to me ‘Mommy, I’m happy, I have a heart now!’ and I laughed and told him that he always had a heart.

“We discovered that he has a fault in his heart when he was six months old; he’s been on the heart surgery waiting list for five years. l was always worried because I could not afford to pay for his surgery.

“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.”

Selwynessa Renzia Mengie, the mother of the young girl who also received life-saving surgery, says she is very happy that her child could finally undergo the vital operation after having been on the waiting list for about six years.

The unemployed mother of three thanked Pelo Foundation and the other stakeholders for assisting her child with the life-saving surgery.

“Sheronique was always in and out of hospital because of her heart condition,” said Mengie.

“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.

“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.”

One of the doctors who were part of the team that made the operations possible, Dr. Adele Greyling, says she is excited that both operations went well.

“All the operations went well and the children will go home tomorrow (Saturday),” said Greyling.

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

This year, Pelo Foundation and its partners already assisted three children with much-needed heart surgeries.

The first beneficiary was a six-year-old girl from the Eastern Cape who received heart surgery a few months ago.

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

“Normally, children can be on the waiting list for about two years. I hope that there will be many entities that will come forward and collaborate so that we may assist in saving more lives,” said Dr. Janson.

South Africa has hundreds of children who are on the heart surgery waiting list.

It is estimated that 1 out of every 1 000 babies is born with Congenital Heart Disease and that every six hours a newborn is added to the waiting list.

The Eastern Cape Province has more than 200 children who are on the waiting list for heart surgery.

Pelo Foundation spokesperson, Dudu Mvimbi Leshabane, said: “There are thousands of children who are waiting to receive heart treatment or surgery.

“If these children do not get immediate attention, they may die.”  

The foundation aims to achieve its mission by raising funds to ensure that children with congenital heart disease receive life-saving surgery and continue to receive medical treatment that could give them a chance to live normal lives.

“Our vision is to ensure that Africa’s children with congenital heart disease, who come from indigent communities, may have a chance to make it to adulthood,” said Mvimbi Leshabane.