HELP: Durban baby given 6 months to live unless her parents raise R400K

By KELYN BLACKBURN Time of article published Jun 25, 2019

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Durban - The parents of a four-month-old child who was born with two holes in her heart have been told to prepare for the worst as their baby girl may only live to six months - unless they can raise the R400 000 that is needed for private surgery.

The story of a four-month-old baby Hollyn Pennington from Pinetown has touched the hearts of many so far but her parents, Roxanne Pennington and Kerwin Fortein know that time is running out for her.

Their desire is to see their baby daughter live beyond the six months doctors have given her.

Hollyn has a rare heart condition known as Atrioventricular Septal Defect (ASVD) which means that the little girl was born with two holes in her heart both said to be 7mm wide.

It was discovered after doctors at King Dinuzulu Hospital ran tests on her shortly after she was born prematurely at seven and a half months on February 16.

Her condition which doctors say also includes Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) has been coupled with Hypoglycemia which she was also diagnosed with. This means that she has a very low level of blood sugar (glucose) flowing to her body's main energy source. 

Her mom said that during her pregnancy there were no indications during the ultrasound examinations that her little girl would be born with the heart defects. 

She said it was only after her birth when tests were run for Down Syndrome when she was diagnosed with the heart conditions.

The unemployed parents are now at their wit's end are seeking any assistance from the public that they can get to help their daughter with what could be lifesaving operation.

So far only R14 000 has been raised out of the R400 000 that is needed.

“She often goes into cardiac arrest, which is extremely scary,'' Pennington said

Pennington says that she has to visit a doctor every week and cannot risk taking her baby into crowded places and into minibus taxis in case she becomes anxious which will increase her heart rate and lead to cardiac arrest. 

She also has to limit the number of visitors who want to see her as to not agitate the disease. 

“Because of the amount of travelling I am having to take to see doctors at different hospitals I had to quit my job because my baby’s health comes first,” she said.

According to Pennington, she has approached several doctors to try to help her daughter but only two specialist doctors assist such cases pro-bono. 

And with a long waiting list to see those doctors, her parents fear their little girl won't make it.

“The doctors have not given us false hope or have sugar-coated the fact that Hollyn will not live by the time a doctor is available to operate on her,'' Pennington said. 

South Africa's public health system has also not been favourable to little Hollyn.

South African children born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) are placed on a government surgical waiting lists which can be up to 1 000 patients long. Without adequate financing, often this can result in years of waiting before they receive the surgical treatment they need. 

Pennington said that after doing much research she came across The Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa who assists children like Holyn raise fund for operations. 

After meeting with them the foundation decided to assist Holyn by setting up a bank account where people can donate funds towards the little girl's surgery.

Renita Venketsamy spokesperson for the TCCF said: "The parents had approached us for assistance at TCCF, they are now using bank account we have opened for babies like Hollyn, this is for their surgery".

Anyone who would like to donate can do so through the following account.

Account details 
Branch code 220629
Reference HOLLYN
Branch name Umhlanga Crescent 501
Acc num 62799665371

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