When Louis Pretorius and his twin brother were born on the 19th of October 2008, their parents were full of hopes and dreams for their children – as many parents are.
But both Louis and his brother were born with congenital heart disorders, which, if left untreated, could mean a premature end to their little lives. While they both suffered from disorders, Louis was unfortunately worse off than his brother.
Having both gone under the knife to repair the defects in their little hearts, it soon became apparent to Louis’s doctors that he would need additional surgery to repair his damaged heart.
In fact, up to three additional surgeries would be required in order to ensure that Louis’s heart was in a liveable shape, and that his body was able to function properly.
The problem with Louis is that he is suffering from Tricuspid Atresia with Pulmonary Stenosis and small Pulmonary Arteries, which heavily restricts the amount of oxygen that can be pumped around his body.
This leaves him weak, regularly tired and with a permanent pale-blue complexion, which is obviously not normal for what should be a happy, active toddler.
While the surgery to help Louis regain some of his health is readily available around the country, Louis’s parents are unable to afford to pay for what is a complicated set of surgeries, which could cost hundreds of thousands of rands.
Louis’s father, who works as a miner, only brings home R6,000 a month and this is stretched to its limits to support his wife – who is currently unemployed – and his kids. Luis’s grandparents gladly help out as best they can, but their government pensions also only go so far every month.
Dr. Lindy Mitchell, Louis’s doctor from the University of Pretoria’s teaching hospital – aware that Louis’s parents a struggle to make ends meet and rely on his grandparents to offer financial support with their pensions – contacted the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation in Sandton to see if Louis could be accommodated as a sponsored surgery.
While Louis’s case is one that the foundation would undertake and pay for, the seriousness of his disorder, and the complexity of the surgery meant that the Foundation would have to raise R350,000 to pay for Louis’s next surgery – which is a heavily discounted rate over what private surgeons would charge for this type of surgery.
Louis’s case was recently picked up by Karlien Nienaber, a founding member of the Legae Lebona Foundation; a Section-21 organisation that aims to assist underprivileged children from all backgrounds raise the necessary finances to pay for education, medical treatment, food and many other necessities.
Karlien, who has helped out the Pretorius family in the past, has dedicated herself to raising awareness of Louis’s plight, with the hope of finding a single or multiple donors to help pay for his surgery.
Fund raising is slow though. Karien has only, to date, managed to raise around R23,000 and still requires over R320,000 to fully pay for his next surgery. And with every dying moment, Louis is getting worse.
The stark reality is that Louis may never survive until all the necessary surgeries are completed And the best Louis and his family can hope for right now is to be made as happy and comfortable during this difficult time.
Dr. Mitchell says that while Louis’s case is complex, he is still operable and this next surgery will be a huge step on the road to recovery for this little boy.