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Little Janko Becomes a Heart Warrior

Janko was born on the 2nd of June 2021. A very healthy screaming baby. We went home the day after he was born. On the 20th of June we noticed that his breathing was very shallow and that there was rib retraction. We took him to Lakeview Hospital (where he was born). They admitted him and diagnosed him with bronchopneumonia and croup. He was placed on oxygen and was given medicine. Tuesday morning at 5:20, 22 June 2021, he started crying as it was time for him to feed. The nurses came to give him medicine and to remove any mucus. It was then that Janko crashed, becoming lifeless, turning pale and blue. They started resuscitation and transferred him to high care. He was then connected to the CPAP machine. Not long after that he crashed again and they had to connect him to a ventilator. It was then that the paediatrician came to us and said that she suspected a heart problem as she was hearing murmurs. Lakeview didn’t have a paediatric ICU, therefore they started phoning around for available beds in other hospitals. COVID made this a difficult task. Eventually they phoned Dr. Mamathuba [a paediatric pulmonologist)] at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital and we received the good news that a bed would open up at 12:00 in the CTICU, meaning that Janko could be transferred. As the medics arrived, Janko crashed for the 3rd time. Ernest Marx, the paramedic from intensive care, was our saving grace and quickly took charge of the situation, stabilising Janko. The transfer went smoothly and he was admitted to the CTICU.

The Sunday before surgery Dr. Schürmann and Dr. Naidoo came to talk to us about the surgery. The confidence of these doctors left me and my husband at ease. Janko was in surgery for 6 hours. We are so thankful for Dr. Naidoo who kept us up to date throughout the surgery. After the surgery Dr. Schürmann said that everything went so well and that it was one of the most difficult surgeries of the year. Janko was in the CTICU for 2 weeks after his surgery. He was then transferred to the paediatric ward for 4 days. Janko was on oxygen the whole time, as his lungs were struggling. We were informed that he would have to be on home oxygen, once he was discharged. Janko was still on oxygen for 5 weeks while being at home. Janko still struggled with his breathing even after he was off oxygen, but his oxygen levels were normal. We then had to perform a sleep study, to make sure that he is exhaling enough CO₂. They picked up that he had sleep apnoea and that he would stop breathing for short periods while he was asleep. Dr. Mamathuba advised us to keep monitoring his stats at night, but that we would not put him on the BiPAP machine, as he was growing well and gaining weight. With one of our check-ups at Dr. Sinyangwe on the 9th of November, we received the news that Janko will need catheterization as there seemed to be narrowing in the pulmonary artery as well as the aorta. On the 17th of November Janko went in for the catheterization. There was no narrowing in the pulmonary artery, but they struggled to get through to the aorta. He was then sent for scans. On the scans they realised that there was an obstruction in the aorta and that he will need open heart surgery again. The surgery is scheduled for January 2022. We ask the Maboneng community to please pray with us for our strong warrior as he will undergo his second heart surgery.

We just want to thank all the staff at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital that are helping and have already helped Janko. All his doctors, Dr. Sinyangwe, Dr. Mamthuba, Dr. Osman, Dr. Lazarus. His surgeon and anaesthetist, Dr. Schürmann and Dr. Naidoo and all the staff in the theater. A special thank you, also goes out to the nurses in the CTICU and paediatric ward, as well as the amazing intensive care paramedics. We make so many calls, due to all the uncertainty and anxiety and they are simply just ALWAYS there to help us and answer our questions. We have so much faith in the Maboneng team. They are truly the best in their respective fields. There are so many things that happened coincidently on our journey, but we know that it wasn't a coincidence. God really guided us through this difficult time and we know that He will keep Janko safe for his next surgery as well.

Photographs: Maritzia van Vreden (shared with permission)


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