Sierra Leone News: Crisis of the heart – 3 weeks to live

He is four months old but looks like a newborn. He cries frequently and has trouble breathing. Yayah Turay is a small baby, wrapped in blankets and snuggled by his young mother. He suffers from a serious heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).
Dr. Christopher Hands, Senior Pediatric Resident working at the Ola During Children’s Hospital, has seen several cases of heart disease. He said, “Yayah has lived this long because he has a hole in his heart that allows some oxygen rich blood to pass.”
Dr. Hands explained, “The oxygenated blood from the lungs is slipping across the hole so that it can come into the main circulation. Yayah is struggling to catch up; to eat, to breath and he is small because a lot of his energy is going into breathing, to try to form more oxygen in because the body knows it does not have enough. The strain on the heart and the lungs will start to damage the heart and lungs”.
“Transposition of the Great Arteries is the second most common congenital heart defect that causes problems in early infancy. TGA occurs in about 3% of all congenital heart defects”. According to the Stanford Children’s Health Hospital website, “Transposition of the great arteries is a congenital (present at birth) heart defect. Due to abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, the large vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, and to the body are improperly connected. Essentially, the connections in the heart are ‘traded’.”
“Normally, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, travels to the right ventricle, then is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle, and then is pumped through the aorta out to the body.
In transposition of the great arteries, the aorta is connected to the right ventricle, and the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle — the opposite of a normal heart’s anatomy.”
Research further states, “because of the low amount of oxygen provided to the body, TGA is one of the heart problems sometimes called, ‘blue-baby syndrome’.
The Pediatric Surgeon explained, “The baby cannot survive unless somebody makes a hole artificially through a surgical operation”.
Fatmata Turay, Yayah’s mother, said, “My baby cries frequently and when he struggles for breathe, he feels uncomfortable and sometimes even if he is hungry he can’t be breastfed”.
However, the Doctor said there is hope as surgeries have been performed since the mid-seventies. He said, “Children that have been operated on – many are living a perfectly normal life 95% of the time”.
Dr. Hands said they have had several heart cases and three of the kids have been sent abroad for surgery. Yayah will be the first with TGA to be sent oversees. “If we are able to organise his operation in the next three to four weeks, then he will have a good chance of survival. If he does not have operation then the outlook will be very different.”
Dr. Hands said, “Fortunately, an organisation named, “Have a Heart” has taken responsibility for the surgery to be done in Cayman Island. They have committed to paying for the surgery, the care and accommodation – about $10,000 USD. Pikin Bizness will pay $3,100 for the flights for baby Yayah and his mother.
By Betty Milton

Awoko Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

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