The parents of a Centurion toddler born with six heart defects last year are preparing for his 12-hour open-heart surgery in a month’s time, reports Centurion Rekord.
Nathan Swanepoel was born on June 19 2018.
“At 22 weeks [pregnancy], our doctor informed us that he had a hole in his heart,” said mother Stephanie.
“While it was a shock, we couldn’t have been prepared for the news that followed when he was born.”
Along with the hole in his aorta, Nathan was diagnosed with a condition called “transposition of the great arteries”.
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“Basically, it means the connections in his heart are ‘swapped’,” Stephanie said.
“Nathan’s aorta is connected to the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle – the opposite of a normal heart’s anatomy.”
This means Nathan’s oxygen-poor blood returns from the body into the misconnected aorta back to his body. His oxygen-rich blood returns from his lungs and then gets passed back to them by the pulmonary artery.
“He essentially has two separate circuits; one that circulates the blue blood from the body back to the body, and another that recirculates the red blood from the lungs back to the lungs.”
This condition, often called “blue-baby syndrome”, results in Nathan’s skin having a bluish tinge.
“His other conditions also include an abnormal connection between the lower chambers of his heart and an obstruction to blood flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery.”
The operation on November 14, known as a Glenn shunt, would be performed at the Steve Biko hospital.
“The surgery has many risks but can increase Nathan’s life span to 30 years,” said Stephanie.
While Nathan’s father, Frans, has a permanent job, the family are struggling to make ends meet.
For this reason, a local charity associated with the ATKV “Vuurwarm Vir Charity” decided to get involved.
“The charity is in the process of collecting baby products, toiletries and food for the family,” said the charity’s “guardian angel” Angelique Gerber.
“When you see Nathan and his mother, you can see what this family is going through.
“We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to assist them in this difficult time.”
Gerber said the charity was also in the process of organising an event in November to raise funds for Nathan and his family.
“The event will take place at Loftus Park on 9 November, and will see participants exercising on trampolines together to raise awareness for this worthy cause.”
The event will start at 10am.
“Every cent counts and if you can give double as much as is asked, please do so we can help support Nathan and his family.”
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