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"Dr Mamorare changed my life"

24 years ago, René Uys’ parents discovered that their baby girl had been gifted to them with a one in one-hundred. A congenital heart defect (CHD).

Two weeks on from her birth in May of 1994, René would undergo her first operation to surgically treat her Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA), or narrowing of the aorta - a defect that sees a narrow major artery responsible for dispensing blood to the upper and lower parts of the body - which would be followed by a second surgery at the age of four. The obstructed blood flow left René with a high blood pressure, ensuring that she pay a visit to the heart specialist every year.

Despite having been on chronic medication her whole life, her annual check-up 18 years on from her last surgery left her in a fearful shock that changed her life for the better. “I didn’t think I would need [another op] again at such a young age,” shares the proud owner of a heart warrior scar, “I was scared to death… I was scared of dying and not ready or prepared to die.”

The physical aspects of her CHD had never bothered her so much as the emotional and psychological challenges her heart defect presented her with. “I had always wanted to be a mother,” explains René, “I could not stand the fact that I may never have the chance to be a [mom] as the risks of pregnancy with high blood pressure were too high…” René’s third surgery left her choice-less - an opportunity to finally gain control over her blood pressure and grant her the option to bring a baby into the world with her husband, Wayne. It was at her routine check-ups following on from her operation in December of 2017 that she and her husband learned that they would be able to have kids. “The results were even better than expected!”

Almost four months on from her life-changing op, René shares that she is still in the process of healing. “I do still get tired quickly and sometimes still feel a little pain doing some day to day activities”, but the gratitude she expresses towards her surgeon, Dr Hendrick Mamorare and cardiologist, Dr Raymond Danksy far outweigh the small irritations that lie in not getting everything planned for the day done in the day. “Dr Mamorare took such good care of me [in ICU]… the first few days were really hard. I was incredibly weak and had to adjust to the new blood pressure and change in my body.” René’s week long stay in ICU was anything but smooth sailing. Closed curtains during treatment left her feeling claustrophobic and, often, just a five minute visit from her family left her exhausted. “The nursing staff were so supportive. Being vulnerable takes away a lot of your pride”.

Standing in front of the mirror today, René’s battle scar whispers back to her stories of strength and survival that have given her pride, a deep gratitude and hope, and remind her of the liberty her new beginning holds on offer for her. “It makes me God’s warrior girl,” says a strong and confident warrior woman of her battle wound, “I feel proud when I see it and I am thankful for everything it symbolises.”

The faith with which René lives her life appears to have serenaded her ongoing heart realted battle with an array of peace and serenity through acceptance. Her family, her husband, her dreams, her dogs - her pillars of strength and support have helped her to be a lighthouse even in her own storm. God will not bring you to his if He will not bring you through this. Words on repeat throughout her intimate journey with her heart.

“Look after yourself, keep fit and keep healthy,” René says to all those living with a heart defect - repaired or in the process of being repaired, “believe in yourself, in your doctor and the medical team… stay positive. Do not let the internet or others outside of the field of cardiology tell you tales. It is likely that it will only create fear for something that is not true… fear nearly drove me insane. You can only be helped and healthy if you want to be”

One last blessing

“May God keep blessing the hands of Dr Mamorare and his team. He is an amazing cardiothoracic surgeon and I do believe that he will change many more lives, like he did mine."


© Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute 2018 | Images: René Uys


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