Heart surgery

Heart surgery breathes new life into two Eastern Cape boys

The mothers of both boys expressed relief this week at how well their sons were doing, leading healthy and normal lives.

Ilario Arries, 3, from Kariega, and Achuma Tshalana, 8, from KwaBhaca, had surgery at the private Busamed Hospital in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, to repair holes in their hearts.

After two successful operations, the boys returned home at the end of March.

The operations were made possible by the Pelo Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for children in serious need of cardiac treatment and surgery.

Achuma’s mother, Khanyo Tshalana, said: “I am very happy that my boy had heart surgery and his health has improved significantly.

“You can’t believe he went back to school three weeks after the operation.

“He used to have a problem where he got tired playing with other kids.”

Ilario’s mother, Michelle Arries, was impressed with her son’s healthy appetite after the operation.

“My baby is now eating like a normal child and is recovering very well,” she said.

“I want to thank everyone who helped him get the treatment he so badly needed.

“When I was told we had to go to Johannesburg for the operation, I was worried, thinking my son might die.

“I would like to urge all parents facing the same problem not to be afraid and to bring their children for the operation because it is the best thing to do.”

SA has hundreds of children on the heart surgery waiting list.

It is estimated that one in 1,000 babies is born with congenital heart disease and every six hours a newborn is added to the waiting list for surgery.

The Eastern Cape alone has more than 200 children on the waiting list for heart surgery.

The Pelo Foundation has partnered with private hospital group Busamed and Wings and Wishes, which transports children and an accompanying guardian to Busamed Hospital and home.

The foundation aims to raise more funds to ensure that children with congenital heart disease receive life-saving surgery and continue to receive medical care, giving them a chance at a normal life.

Since its inception in June 2021, the Pelo Foundation and its partners have helped seven children undergo surgery.


BIG DAY: Ilario Arries, 3, from Kariega, is comforted by his mother, Michelle, before being taken to surgery by staff at the private Busamed Hospital in Johannesburg