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Two Prem Babies in Two Different Hospitals

Twins, Sadie and Trav, arrived 8 weeks earlier than expected in February 2019. The de Jong family’s little boy weighed in at 1.6 kgs at birth and his sister a mere 1.9 kgs. “They were in the NICU unit because of their weight,” shares heart-mom Catriona, “and when they were 11 days old, a cardiologist was called to check up on Trav. The hospital that they were born at reached out to Dr Jeff Harrisberg, who was unavailable, so Dr Sinyangwe arrived and picked up that Trav had been born with Coarctation of the Aorta”. A narrowing of the body’s main artery - the aorta.

Travis and his twin sister, Sadie.

Trav’s CHD diagnosis meant that he had to be transferred to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, leaving his twin sister, Sadie, alone in NICU. “They had to be split up which was not fun, I won’t lie,” says Catriona, “it was stressful having two prem babies already and now we had two prem babies in two different hospitals”. Catriona recalls that Trav’s surgeons wanted him to be 3kgs for his first operation but do to the severity of his defect had to operate earlier than they had hoped. 12 day old Trav was wheeled into the operating room the morning after his arrival at Netcare Sunninghill. “He was in CTICU for two-and-a-half to three weeks and was then transferred back to Sandton where Sadie was”. Sadie was discharged and Trav soon followed. “We had check-ups with Jeff [Dr Harrisberg] who found another narrowing. Trav was booked in for his second open heart surgery. “Dr Schürmann wanted him to be at least 5.5 kgs but they decided to go ahead with his surgery and operated on him when he was 3.8 kgs. Prior to his surgery, Dr Schürmann had said to us that because Trav was so small there was a chance that they would nick his phrenic nerve (connected to the diaphragm) during surgery but would only know afterwards”. Trav had his second open heart surgery at three months old on a Wednesday and on Friday that same week went in for another operation to pin his diaphragm back down. “Trav was in CTICU for about 4 weeks. I read it all the time and its true… the toughest thing is only being able to visit during visiting hours,” shares Catriona, “the nurses were amazing though. I would call every time I got up to pump. All I can say is thank goodness he was so little and sedated, because I can’t imagine having to leave him knowing he is thinking where’s mommy going.

“They are turning four in February and you would never think anything was wrong with Trav,” shares Catriona, “we feel very lucky to have been at Sunninghill Hospital, it was absolutely amazing. The doctors and nurses were amazing and Dr Naidoo was incredible sending us update messages during Trav’s op. “I read some of the other stories on your page and have a good cry. Every story makes you relive it and go through it again but also helps you to realize that there are others in the same boat because you do feel lonely. None of our friends have babies with heart defects. We have certainly learnt a lot!”


Pictures supplied by Catriona Montagu and shared with permission.


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