Justine Lewis checks on her daughter Ruveshni, who is said to be recovering well. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Born with one heart ventricle, Ruveshni Lewis has become the first African recipient of a cutting-edge cardiac intervention.

The 6-year-old, from George, recently underwent the medical procedure at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, which saw an atrial flow restrictor (AFR) implanted between one of the heart chambers, and a conduit.

This was only the third operation of its kind to be completed globally, according to hospital.

Ruveshni was born with one heart ventricle, which resulted in her heart not being able to pump oxygen-poor blood (“blue blood”) back to her lungs.

In two previous operations, cardiac surgeons were able to divert blue blood through a conduit directly to her lungs, without it having to pass through the missing ventricle. After the second operation, a complication resulted in an emergency operation.

During that operation, a “window” that was made between the conduit and her heart was too large, allowing too much blue blood back into her heart.

This had resulted in her having very low oxygen saturations.

Ruveshni is currently stable and recovering well after the procedure, doctors said yesterday.

Her mother Justine, said she was delighted with her daughter’s recovery.

“Mentally and physically she’s a playful child, she wasn’t like that, she couldn’t play long, she couldn’t walk long distances, she would always complain about getting tired too easily but that has all changed,” Justine said.

Paediatric cardiologist Professor Rik De Decker said that the hospital’s catheterisation laboratory, or cath lab team last week implanted the AFR between one of the heart chambers and the conduit to reduce the window’s size from 10mm to 4mm, a more normal size.

“This is a new device, recently developed in Sweden, and it’s not even on the market yet. It’s currently undergoing registration in Europe and we got it on a compassionate-use basis - gratis. It has a hole inside, like a blow-off hole, to allow some blood to go through.

“After undergoing six previous procedures, the implantation of the AFR effectively means that Ruveshni won’t need to undergo difficult repeat surgery for this problem, which is wonderful news,” De Decker said.

Cape Times