Just discharged!

clip_image002After a 2 month wait on the WSPCF waiting list, little Andrew Obeholzer had his operation done recently and has been discharged form hospital happy and healthy.

What started out as a visit to the doctor for a cold turned out to be something a lot more serious for little Andrew Oberholzer. Who, unbeknownst to his mother and father, had a small ventricular septal defect (or a hole) in his heart.

Doctors told Nicoleen, Andrew’s mother, that the surgery to repair Andrew’s heart would cost in the region of R250,000, which the family could not afford. With Andrew’s father being a mineworker, his mother a housewife and no medical aid, the funds were just not available to have the operation done.

But thanks to funds donated by MTN, Andrew was able to receive his surgery, and he is home keeping his mother on her toes.

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The WSPCF’s youngest partner

clip_image002Nicole Vernot, the WSPCF’s youngest partner, recently took part in “Gifts for Good” at her school in the United States—St Patrick’s Episcopal Day School.

Her mom, Katherine, tells us it was a wonderful experience for her because she nominated the WSPCF as the beneficiary of money raised from selling small gifts to her school mates.

Included in the items she and her father, Dr. Richard Jonas, who is also President of the American Friends of WSPCF, were selling was a collection of pendants (designed by Jenna Clifford), and African bracelets and necklaces, which proved to be very popular.

Nicole and Richard participated in this event for the first time and raised around $500, which was very generously donated to the Foundation.

We’re very grateful Nicole, and thank you so much for helping us raise the awareness of congenital heart disorders in Africa.

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Valentine’s Day—all about hearts!

clip_image002This past Valentine’s Day beat all our expectations. We embarked on a
campaign that put hearts (real ones) at the centre of Valentine’s Day, and reminded everyone about our SMS fund raising line.

We appeared on Sam Cowen’s Great Expectations and also on the SABC2, and received over 300 SMSs on the day, which was a great response.

Thanks to everyone involved in making the day possible.

Remember, SMS ‘heart’ to 38208 and you’ll make a donation towards saving a child’s heart. SMS costs R10, free & bundled SMSs don’t apply.

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Louis didn’t make it

You’ll remember the story we posted late last year (here) about little Louis Pretorius who was struggling with a complex congenital heart disorder, which required a number of operations to fix. 

While there were many people working tirelessly to raise the necessary funds to help Louis with his next surgery, he sadly, didn’t make it through the festive season and passed away on New Year’s Day.

Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends.

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A word from the CEO

clip_image002As another exciting year comes to an end, we’re celebrating milestones galore! With 50 babies at Netcare Sunninghill, five at Netcare Christiaan Barnard and 36 at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital having been operated on this year, we’re thrilled that our sponsors and partners have really been able to come to the party this year.

2010’s been full of highlights as well, with our Cardiac Congress attracting a record number of attendees, the Foundation’s expansion into the Cape, many awards being won, new partners and sponsors coming on board and large projects being kicked off that are going to do great things in 2011.

We could not possibly get by without the unending support of Mr. Lungi Sisulu our chairman, as well as our trustees – and we welcome Dr Richard Friedland, Dr Hendrick Mamorare and Dr Kenny Govendgrageloo who join Mr Norman Weltman, Dr Victor Litlhakanyane, Mrs Ayanda Sisulu- Dunstan and Mrs Albertina Sisulu to the board of trustees. Thank you for your wise council and guidance.

We said goodbye to a legend  in his own right, Dr Peter Colsen this year. Pete, you are missed by the many, especially by your beloved nursing staff. We wish you well in your new life of retirement. We also say goodbye to Madeleine Hicklin, who consulted to the foundation on fundraising and wish her well in her future ventures.

Our congratulations go to Sarah-Jane from Jenna Clifford’s Dream Big Foundation on the arrival of her baby boy—Cruz. We wish you all the best with your little cutie pie.

And now, here’s a taste of what we can look forward to next year: Our global patron, HRH Princess Haya, will host an event in Dubai to assist with critical fundraising and the 2011 Cardiac Congress is being planned, which will be hosted at Netcare head office 23/24th March.

We’re also in the process of completely revamping our website and brand, so keep an eye out for our “new look” from next year.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season filled with peace and love.


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A generous gift from Numatic International

clip_image002The WSPCF recently received a generous and much-needed donation from Numatic International as part of the company’s Christmas initiative.

As part of Numatic’s Christmas initiative the company donated a range of state-of-the-art cleaning products which will be used in the WSPCF’s Sheikha Al Jalila mother’s home. In addition, Numatic also added to the home’s play room with an assortment of toys to keep the young ones occupied while they recover from their operations.

“Supporting the WSPCF was a first for Numatic and the experience was truly heart warming,” says Dewald Botha, general manager for Numatic South Africa.

“We were delighted to help this remarkable foundation and we are inspired by the fantastic work they do. On behalf of Numatic, I’d like to wish the WSPCF a blessed Christmas and may 2011 be another successful year of changing lives and performing miracles.”

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Where are they now?

clip_image002Eunice Mathebula

In 2006 when Eunice was 14, her life changed dramatically. Having never really had health complications in the past, Eunice was surprised when she collapsed at her Mphumelanga school after a spell of “not feeling well”. She wasn’t eating, she was always tired and vomited a lot, which was major cause for concern.

She Was rushed to her doctor in Ermelo, who found that she had a problem with her heart and needed to be referred to a specialist to diagnose and treat whatever was wrong with her heart. But those skills weren’t readily available in Ermelo.

In a critical condition, Eunice was rushed to Bloemfontein, where she was diagnosed as having Rheumatic Fever and desperately needed a Mitral Valve Replacement, which could only be done in Johanesburg—and at great expense (Approx. R220,000).

Eunice, now pale in colour, made it to Sandton and saw Dr. Kinsely, who immediately admitted her to hospital and booked her surgery for the following day. But money was still an issue.

Eunice’s mother, Edith, is a domestic worker and her father is unemployed, so they did not have access to the necessary funds to pay for the operation, or even Medical Aid for that matter.

The WSPCF agreed to take on Eunice’s case and funded her surgery. After four hours under the knife and a few days in ICU, Eunice was well on her way to recovery. She’s leaps and bounds ahead of where she was all those years ago and, short of having to take medication, she has very few memories of her ordeal.

Today, Eunice loves playing netball and hopes to be a doctor one day.

clip_image002[4]Helen Mangane

According to her mother—Anna—Helen has always had health issues, from birth. She was always tired and pale in colour and it got to a point, when she was 12 years old, that she could not see a full day through without being completely exhausted.

Anna, a domestic worker, worried that Helen’s condition was getting worse, eventually took her to Pretoria Academic Hospital, where Helen was diagnosed as having an Arterial Septal Defect and needed surgery as soon as possible.

Because Helen’s father had passed away, coming up with the money to pay for the surgery was a huge challenge for her mother. But help was at hand thanks to the WSPCF, which paid for her surgery to be performed at the Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in 2008.

Since her surgery, Helen has fully recovered, but still needs to visit the hospital every few years to replace the battery in the pacemaker that was installed on her heart.

Helen also loves netball and hopes to follow a career in medicine when she is older.

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Little Louis needs your help

clip_image002When 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.

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Montecasino hosts our Christmas Party

clip_image002For the children of the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation (WSPCF), the 9th December was a day to remember as Montecasino treated them to an afternoon of fun and spoils just in time for Christmas.

With the aim of bringing some holiday cheer to the less fortunate; Montecasino hosted a Christmas party for the children where they enjoyed lunch at Spur before meeting Santa and having their photographs taken with him.

They were then treated to a game of ten-pin bowling at the brand new Magic Company ten-pin bowling arena before settling down for the magical Jacaranda 94.2 and Spar Carols by Candlelight on the Montecasino Outdoor Piazza.

It was a fun-filled afternoon of good times and Christmas cheer, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without presents, and Montecasino, under guise of Father Christmas, presented the WSPCF with special gifts for each of the children.

The annual Christmas party at Montecasino is always a major highlight for our children, and we just want to thank Montecasino for putting on a wonderful party again this year.

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Debit order initiative

It’s an ongoing challenge for the WSPCF to widen its donor pool. And to reach the estimated R60m that is required to perform 400 more operations that Mam Sisulu called for, every funding initiative, campaign and cent that is raised counts.

The Foundation recently launched a monthly direct debit campaign, organised by parents whose children had heart surgery luckily covered by medical insurance, was launched.

In keeping with our drive to make donating easier and more accessible, this initiative gives everyone the ability to make small regular donations via debit order towards the running of various support mechanisms and programmes at the Foundation.

No matter how big or small the monthly debit order is, every little bit helps. We’ve already had a massive response, with close to 100 mothers pledging their support and setting up debit orders to help the Foundation out.

A huge thanks to Sam Cowen from 94.7 who announced this initiative on air.

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