CAPE TOWN – Following a lifesaving operation to fix a large hole in his heart, eight-month-old Muhammad Noor Ismail is back home with his mother, on his road to recovery.
With no time to lose, health care companies and top medical specialists teamed up to ensure little Muhammad Noor Ismail could receive the urgent surgery he needed, at the world-class cardiothoracic centre, at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.
Muhammad Noor Ismail’s mother Sana Maher said she noticed the irregularity when her baby was just two weeks old.
“When he was two weeks old, I noticed he was a bit congested and wasn’t feeding well. 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,” said Maher.
Muhammad Noor Ismail is the latest beneficiary of the 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.
“We prayed for a solution to help get the operation for our baby sooner, but we aren’t on medical aid and, at times, it felt like there was little hope. Interventional paediatric cardiologist Professor 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, Muhammad Noor Ismail would have his operation much sooner than expected, as a beneficiary of the Heart-to-Heart campaign,” said Maher.
The doctor suggested he might have a heart defect, and Muhammad Noor Ismail was first referred to Kalafong Hospital and, from there, to Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Cardiothoracic surgeon and co-founder of the Maboneng Heart Institute Dr Erich Schürmann said: “Earlier this year, Muhammad Noor was diagnosed with ventricular septal defect (VSD), or a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of his heart. 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.
“As the child grows, this type of heart defect damages the arteries of the lungs, and a specialised procedure is required to correct it, ideally, as soon as possible. Sadly, there is a considerable waiting list for such resource-intensive procedures, and when we heard about Muhammad Noor Ismail’s condition, we were determined to find a way to assist,” said Schürmann.
This match donation initiative, between Netcare’s CSI arm and Medipost Holdings, provided the necessary funding for Muhammad Noor Ismail to have his operation.
There was, however, an unforeseen delay – when the family tested positive for Covid-19, the day before he was first scheduled to be admitted for surgery.
“We had no symptoms at any stage, fortunately, but it meant Muhammad Noor Ismail’s operation had to be postponed as a precaution. We had to be patient for just a few weeks longer and, thankfully, towards the end of August, his procedure could go ahead,” his mother remembers.
Maher was relieved that the operation was a success.
“Thank goodness the operation went well. He is recovering quickly and was back home after a few days. Muhammad Noor Ismail 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.
General manager for emergency, trauma, transplant and CSI at Netcare, and a trustee of the Netcare Foundation, Mande Toubkin said: “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, and it is only through working together to find solutions that we can reach more children in time.”
For more information about the Maboneng Foundation, which coordinates sponsorship of the procedures, or to make a donation visit: http://www.mabonengfoundation.co.za/