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The Jansen Family's CHD Journey

Wanique had a healthy pregnancy with her little girl, Danica, and saw two gynaecologists “just to be cautious”, as she herself was born with a hole in her heart which closed by itself. It was for this reason that Wanique went for a cardiac assessment during her pregnancy. “I wanted to know if there was a chance my baby’s heart could be okay,” shares Wanique, who was told that “once she is born, we will know if all is well”. Wanique gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 38 weeks via C-section. It was then that the family’s paediatrician picked up Danica’s murmur and notified Wanique immediately. “They called [paediatric cardiologist] Dr Sinyangwe immediately,” recalls Wanique, “there were so many thoughts racing through my mind, I couldn’t help but cry”. Dr Sinyangwe came through to meet with the Jansen family and confirmed Danica’s murmur. Their newborn little girl was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect - a hole in the wall that separates the two lower chambers of the heart. “He told us that she would need two surgeries… first to put in a band, which would be temporary and help her grow,” says Wanique, “and the second one would be to close the VSD if it hadn’t closed on its own”.

At six weeks old, Danica underwent her first open heart surgery. “It went well and we could see the improvement,” shares Wanique. Danica unfortunately developed seizures after she was discharged, which is when “we immediately took her back to hospital” and the Jansens spent a month with her there.

“Dr Erich Schürmann, Dr Lazarush, Dr Mamathuba, Dr Sinyangwe, Dr Osman, Dr Wilson, Dr Naidoo… they were all incredible. The nurses were there 24 hours a day and helped to put me at ease during this tough time.

“Dr Sinyangwe was very hopeful throughout the journey. He was like a friend and made us laugh a lot.

“Dr Sch​​ürmann and Dr Naidoo made us feel calm and told us exactly what we could expect.

“The Nurses answered my numerous questions and were so patient with me when I would call to follow up on Danica. The other heart-moms offered a lot of support to me during this time. We made some great friends.”

Danica was just over a year old when she went in for her second surgery. “She is doing well after her second operation. We are so grateful to God and for our family and friends who prayed with us.

Wanique shares that their baby girl, Danica, has grown into a feisty, bold and carefree little girl. “A delight to have in our lives”.

“This journey hasn't been an easy one. It is draining emotionally and physically. Yet I am so grateful for the precious gift of life, where ordinary individuals were used to perform extraordinary miracles. We appreciate you all.”

Pictures taken by Wanique Jansen and shared with permission.


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