If ever there was a test of faith for Henk and Juanita Van Zyl, two missionaries who run the Shalom Children’s Home in Heidelberg, it was the ordeal that their son, Michael, went through in the months after his birth in 2005.
Michael is the fourth of five children that Henk and Juanita have and—unbeknownst to his parents at the time—was born with two serious congenital heart disorders. The combination of a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and a Tetralogy of Fallot made him a ticking time-bomb. At three weeks old, Michael appeared weak and swollen around the feet, so Juanita and Henk had to have him checked up by the family paediatrician, who immediately diagnosed a heart problem and referred the family to Dr. Dansky at the WSPCCA.
Because of Michael’s small size, he could not immediately be operated on and was given various drugs to stimulate quick short-term growth to prepare him for surgery. But things quickly took a turn for the worst and he had to be admitted immediately for surgery by Dr. Kinsley. Despite a mountain of
complications during the surgery, Michael’s surgery was a success and he began his slow and arduous journey to recovery with his mom and dad at his side in the Netcare Sunninghill hospital.
At the time, Henk and Juanita didn’t have medical aid of any kind, which meant that financing the
emergency surgery was incredibly difficult. Bills added up into the hundreds of thousands of rands. And despite being referred to the WSPCCA for financial assistance, the Foundation—at the time– was awaiting pledged funds to be deposited into its accounts and could not help immediately. Henk weighed up all the options to raise the money—from selling his bakkie to selling the few sheep that they had on their small farm where they lived.
“God really came to our rescue,” Henk says. “After weeks of praying, we had a friend who came
forward to offer financial assistance and the WSPCCA received a generous donation from Vodacom, which enabled Lynda to pay for Michael’s hospital bills.”
Miracles, he says, happen everyday, and Michael’s story is one example. Five years down the line, Michael is a happy, healthy young boy who enjoys school, playing cricket and PlayStation with his siblings. “He
always reminds us that the small scar on his chest is where God fixed him,” Juanita says. As a symbol of Michael’s recovery and growth,
Juanita received a plant at a WCPCCA luncheon in 2005, which is one of Michael’s most prized possessions.
“He loves his plant, and I can’t help but think of the relevance of this growing plant to our little boy. We can’t thank God, the WSPCCA and all the doctors enough for the help and compassion that they showed us during this trying time,” Juanita concludes.