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Liora Opperman's CHD Journey

We were expecting our 2nd little girl in January 2020, and even though I am not the glowing pregnant mommy we didn't have any health issues. I went into labor on the night of 13 January, hoping to have a vbac but God knew better. When my labor didn't progress as planned, the doctors made a call and I had a C section late Tuesday afternoon to welcome our little one into the world.

We took so long to decide on her name and finally settled on Liora: meaning bearer of God's light. Little did we know how her name would resilate His goodness in the weeks to come.

The morning after Liora's birth, the paediatrician notified us that she heard a heart murmur but that babies usually outgrow these by themselves. Just to be safe though she phoned paediatric cardiologist, Dr Sinyangwe, to come have a look. Our worst fears were confirmed when Dr Sinyangwe informed us that Liora has Truncus Arteriosus and would have to have open heart surgery in order to have any quality of life whatsoever.

Initially Dr Sinyangwe wanted to get her to 5kg with the help of some meds, however, when we saw him a week later, Liora was already in severe heart failure with an enlarged liver.

Dr Sinyangwe and Dr Schürmann decided to admit her to Netcare Waterfall City to try and reverse the heart failure, but after 2 days her condition worsened and she had to be put on a ventilator. It was then decided to go ahead and do the repair even though she was just 2 weeks old and 2.9kg.

She was transferred to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital on Monday 27 January and had her surgery on 28 January 2020, a day we will never forget. We were stuck in traffic and I feared that I would not make it to the hospital in time to kiss my angel before the 6 hour surgery. We made it in the nick of time.

The doctors were amazing and so supportive and anaethetist, Dr Krishnee Naidoo, kept us informed from theatre throughout the process.

It was a huge shock to see our tiny baby girl with all the wires and drips after surgery and Dr Schürmann warned us that the recovery is much more difficult than the surgery. But our brave little girl stood up to the fight.

We had so many prayer groups and people praying all over the world for Liora. Even people that we never even met would phone and message to see how she was doing. She has touched the lives of so many people already.

The Saturday after her surgery we received a call from the hospital informing us that Liora's lung had collapsed and our hearts sank. We were so sure we would be leaving the hospital in record time. We continued praying and speaking life over her little body and sure enough she fought with all her might.

I remember that we would bathe and feed her older sister and drive back to see Liora at night visiting hours. It was a very difficult time for our family, but Liora fought so bravely and the oxygen and meds were eased day by day until we finally got the all clear to go home on 13 February 2020. We were overjoyed that our little girl was home again.

Even though the journey does not end when you leave the hospital and our little one has surely had more than her fair share of challenges, she is doing well overall. We see Dr Sinyangwe every 6 months to ensure that her heart is still healthy and so far she hasn't needed any additional interventions.

We will forever be grateful to Dr Sinyangwe, Dr Schürmann, Dr Naidoo and their teams for saving our baby girl and also being so compassionate towards us during the most difficult time of our life.

Pictures taken by Madelize Opperman and shared with permission.


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