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"Thank you for allowing me to be a normal kid and giving me the privilege of living my life"

Hello Dr Schuürman,

My name is Lily Senior and I was an old patient of yours back when you operated with Professor Kinsley. Lily Senior was three months old when her parents learned about her congenital heart defects from a heart murmur discovered at a regular three month check-up. “The doctor wasn’t happy with the sound and referred us to Dr Jeff Harrisberg, who made my diagnosis.” Lily, first born to her parents, was diagnosed with Arterial Septal Defect (ASD) and Pulmonary Valve Stenosis. “My parents were given two options. They could either wait until I was a bit older or they could schedule my surgery immediately,” shares Lily, “they didn’t do anything straight away because they felt I was too young and they were too nervous”. You did an ASD repair and Pulmonic Valve Stenosis repair on the 1st November 2011. At four years old, Lily went in for her open heart surgery with Dr Erich Schürmann and the Maboneng team. She was in theater for four and a half hours and says that she cannot remember much of any of it, except that everything went well and that it was tough for her parents. “My parents told me that I was groggy and out of it for a while when I was transferred to the CTICU post surgery, but I was only there for one night before I moved to Paeds ward.” Lily went home after five nights in total and everything has been “good and smooth sailing ever since”. “I go for check-ups with Dr Harrisberg annually and everything has been all good so far. I am very grateful to get to live my life and to not have to worry too much”. I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am for you and everything that you have done for me and so many others. As Lily gets older, she allows and welcomes more reflection on how her CHD and open heart surgery have impacted her life. “As I get older I become more aware… it gives me perspective and appreciation and makes me look at life differently. Life can’t always be taken for granted and I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that in the end everything will be okay.”

You have really changed my life and how I view life.

Thank you for allowing me to be a normal kid, giving me the privilege of living my life to the fullest.

While Lily is sharing her story, she takes a moment to reflect on her scar that she has grown into and from and which remains a profound connection to the surgeons and team that gave her a second chance at life. “Some days I don’t love it, but most days I try to embrace it”.

Photographs shared with permission.


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