DURBAN - Two boys, who live in Newcastle, will always have a strong bond. Both have received lifesaving mechanical hearts - one boy has received two - and they are now waiting for matching donor hearts.
Five-year-old Mnotho Mndebele made medical history recently when he had his surgery at the Maboneng Heart Institute at the Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, Johannesburg, and became the youngest patient in Africa to receive the imported heart ventricular assist implant to keep his damaged heart functioning.
Weighing 17kg, he also became one of the smallest in the world to have a high-tech mechanical heart.
Mnotho had suffered from a dilated cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart muscle, in which the left ventricle becomes enlarged and weakened and is no longer able to pump blood properly. The mechanical heart is helping to restore normal blood flow.
The first Newcastle boy to have the same operation, and who had received two mechanical heart devices at the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town last year, was Philasande Dladla, now 11.
As a gesture of support, Philasande and his mother, Sindi Dladla, visited Mnotho and his mother, Mbali Mndebele, at the hospital during Mnotho’s stay.
And with so much in common, it was inevitable that the boys would form a strong bond, Netcare pointed out. The mothers will also form a support group and will remain in contact.
Mnotho is finally on his way home after spending time with his uncle in Soweto. His mother thanked Dr Viljee Jonker and Dr Greenwood Sinyangwe for giving her son a second chance at life.
More than 4300 South Africans are waiting for organ and cornea transplants, according to the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa.
No suitable donors have been found this year for the five children on Jonker’s heart transplant list. Two other children died while waiting for a donor.
With August being Organ Donor Month, Jacques du Plessis, the managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, said: “It’s really heartbreaking and unnecessary to lose so many children on the donor waiting list.”