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The Story of Heart Warrior, Ayaan Bhoopal

Ayaan Bhoopal has become a story of the heart.

Ayaan’s life has been the greatest celebration.

He is a collection of momentous memories and his intriguing body a teacher to medicine.

His smile has become a trademark and a representation of his choice to overcome his own battles.

He is an inspiration and a sparkle of hope.

His spirit roars with strength and courage.

He is an eternal powerful blessing.

A larger than life iconic real-life hero, Ayaan Bhoopal has touched the lives of many hearts.

Courage in the face of adversity,

Born with a broken heart yet a thief of hearts himself… (by Seshma Bhoopal)


Ayaan was born on the 10 April 2010. He was a tiny 2.2 kg gorgeous baby boy. He was very troublesome and frequently cried, would turn blue and just keep us up all night walking with him trying to pacify an uneasiness. Every check-up ended in an explanation until the weekend after the 2010 Soccer World Cup, I could no longer manage this continuously crying baby and asked for his heart to be checked. I spent 2 days at the hospital where Ayaan was born, until Dr Jeff Harrisberg came to our rescue.

Ayaan’s historic relationship with Sunninghill Hospital began in 2010.

June 2010, Ayaan Bhoopal was diagnosed with Tricuspid Atresia Type 2 C and Pulmonary Vein Stenosis by Dr Jeffery Harrisberg (Ayaan’s beloved Paediatric Cardiologist). All that I remembered on that day was that Ayaan had two holes in his heart, not realising that this was the least of major issues. Dr Harrisberg saved Ayaan at 10 weeks old and has played an instrumental role in his life to date. Dr Harrisberg has gained the respect and faith of Ayaan, who trusts his doctor enormously. Ayaan sees him as a friend and someone who can favor decisions and be on his side. “Harrisberg will say I can go on holiday, Harrisberg will take me off oxygen, Harrisberg will let me go home, Harrisberg is in charge of me…”

Ayaan needed urgent surgery. Dr Harrisberg transferred us to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, where the cardiothoracic surgeon at the time led Ayaan’s first and all 6 heart surgeries with his team of brilliant surgeons, which now make up the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute: Dr Mamorare, Dr Eric Schürmann and many other surgeons on board. Paediatrician, Dr Vasanthie Pillay, became a vital part of the team dealing with Ayaan’s daily health issues, and to date is our angel doctor in our lives. Ayaan’s first open heart surgery was performed on the 25 June 2010, however 10 weeks late, already caused the deoxygenated blood to flood his lungs causing permanent damage, resulting in him being palliative. He has undergone 6 open heart surgeries in his life, all within five years - between 2010 and 2015. The Pediatric and CTICU, became home to us - him and our family - for years, with the most caring staff that made every endeavor to keep Ayaan comfortable. This has been followed by several cardiac catheterizations, hospital admissions, ENT and dental related surgery, stomach and abdomen issues, neurological issues, scopes and biopsies, the list goes on…. A little child who has endured more than you can ever imagine.

25 June 2010, changed our lives forever. We started a journey unknown but very quickly learnt the value of this precious child and the higher purpose he served. Challenges that came with this new lifestyle had an enormous effect yet the reward bigger and greater. Ayaan overcame every battle victoriously.

Ayaan’s great success in his health is awarded to the medical team at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. Ayaan’s clinical condition requires medical assistance in many areas. Every single doctor who has worked with Ayaan, I give credit to. Each and every medical staff takes utmost care in Ayaan’s sensitive case. Ayaan gets the help he needs timeously and thus he has come this far despite all odds against his medical condition. Ayaan’ core medical team have sat frequently discussing each new turn in his challenges and have always found a solution to his case. Ayaan has a huge team of the best specialists, highly respectable and we are blessed to have them as part of ‘Team Ayaan’.

Every surgeon, pediatric cardiologist, pulmonologist, anaesthetist, paediatrician, neurologist, paediatric surgeon, ENT specialist, dental surgeon, ophthalmologist, palliative specialist, psychologist, physiotherapists, optometrists and doctors, have done their best in treating Ayaan on each occasion encountered at hospital. Every ward, nurse, radiologist, blood technician, receptionist, pharmacist, restaurant worker, cart driver, security assistant, have each played a vital role in our care, happiness and warmth during our visits and hospital stays.

The Netcare Sunninghill Hospital and every stakeholder who have become a part of our journey, supporting our most difficult moments. For this I am forever grateful to each person that has played a role big or small in ensuring that Ayaan gets the help, support and care and acknowledge his hardships with good wishes and prayer.

Ayaan is now 11 years old. Ayaan attended Grade R to Grade 3 at Buccleuch Primary School. He is currently homeschooling with Impaq Education, due to being a high risk patient for the Covid 19 pandemic. He is excelling in his work and is on track with all his tasks and exams. He is a happy, mischievous and adventurous boy. Ayaan enjoys playstation games and forte night, he creates Lego models and has an engineering mind to build and make things work electronically. He has goals in games and thrives in completing a mission successfully.

Ayaan is currently on oxygen, however he is being monitored in the weaning process. He is a complicated palliative patient who needs constant health care and intervention. With his history of a complex heart and lung and several other complications, Ayaan still thrives as the brave heart hero, with a fighting spirit. Despite him using oxygen, he has taught us that no matter what odds are against you, you can still persevere and live the best life possible. With or without oxygen he plays basketball, swims, runs, and always dares the uncertain path. Within boundaries he is allowed most adventures and has the greatest passion for life itself. Nothing stops him from being involved and proving his purpose and role.

Ayaan has become the CHD icon in his community, the heart warrior who has a zest for life. He has endured more pain and surgery than most of us combined, yet his smile, energy and attitude rise above his issues.

He is an inspiration to family, friends and people who follow his miraculous story of hope.

Ayaan is the miraculous chapter in his own success story….

He is a true miracle and a symbol of hope.

Born with a broken heart, yet a thief of hearts himself - the success story of Ayaan Bhoopal continues…


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