'We fully expect him to be able to go to school and do everything a normal young boy would do.'
JOHANNESBURG, August 2 (ANA) – A five-year-old boy from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal has become the youngest patient on the African continent to undergo a lifesaving mechanical heart implantation.
Maboneng Heart Institute, situated at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, implanted a heart ventricular assist device (HVAD) into Mnotho Mndebele, who had been in a critical condition in intensive care for four consecutive months prior to the operation.
The cardiothoracic surgeon who lead the team that installed the device a month ago, Dr Viljee Jonker, said he was pleased with Mndebele’s progress and that he would be returning to Newcastle this week.
“The multidisciplinary team at the hospital involved in his treatment and care is absolutely thrilled with his progress, particularly as he had been seriously ill for months before the operation, and his recovery has therefore taken some time,” Jonker said.
“We fully expect him to be able to go to school and do everything a normal young boy would do. However, unlike other children he will carry a small external battery pack for his implanted HVAD mechanical heart either on a belt around his waist, or in a small backpack. The batteries for the mechanical heart will have to be recharged every eight hours or so.”
Netcare said that despite being the youngest patient in Africa, Mndebele was also one of the smallest and youngest in the world to have benefitted from the HVAD implant.
“Mnotho had been on the heart transplant list but paediatric heart donations rarely become available. He had also been in and out of intensive care units at various hospitals in the year leading up to the operation. In his case, we opted to use the HVAD as a bridge to a future heart transplant. In reality, it is a lifeline until such time as a matching donor heart can be found for him to undergo a biological heart transplant,” Jonker said.
The hospital said Mndebele suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition in which the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged and weakened and is no longer able to pump blood properly.
Netcare said the mechanical heart would help to restore normal blood flow by enabling the left-sided circulation of the heart to operate more effectively. It can only be used if the right ventricle of the patient’s heart was able to function adequately and will enable Mnotho to grow stronger and gain much-needed weight over the next few years.
– African News Agency (ANA)