Baby Hollyn is hooked up to machines to check her heart and breathing rates and to monitor blood flow. Blood is pumping too quickly into her lungs.
DURBAN - A Pinetown family is having sleepless nights over their newborn who has been diagnosed with a heart defect.

They are worried that baby Hollyn may have only four months to live unless she has a heart operation soon.

Her parents, Roxanne Pennington, 32, and Kerwin Fortein, 29, have made an impassioned plea for help to raise R400 000 for the operation.

“Help us give our baby a chance to live,” said Pennington yesterday.

Soon after Hollyn was born on February 16, her parents were told by doctors that she has a heart defect called an atrioventricular septal defect.

“Hollyn has two holes in her heart, both 7mm wide, and her little heart is leaking as well,” said Pennington.

Pennington explained that Hollyn was also tested for Down syndrome and hypoglycemia.

“She was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, and has convulsions. We will only get the results of the Down syndrome test in May,” she said.

Hollyn’s parents were advised by doctors that she has to have an operation before she turns six months old otherwise she “won’t make it”.

While Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital is willing to perform the operation at no cost, there are 400 babies on the waiting list.

“They said some of the babies don’t make it before they have time to do the operation. They were very upfront and honest with us and I appreciated that, but there’s no chance she’ll make it in time,” she said.

Pennington said their only option other than keeping Hollyn on the waiting list there was to take her to a private hospital.

“We have tried medical aid but there’s no medical aid or hospital cover that’s willing to accept her because it is a pre-existing condition and there’s a 12-month waiting period,” she said.

Hollyn is at home, but they were advised she could go into cardiac failure within the next few months.

Pennington said they spend every other day being referred from one hospital to the next for check-ups, scans and X-rays.

“It’s scary because sometimes she just stops breathing - it looks like she’s choking. It’s stressful, especially at night. We are constantly awake watching her to make sure she’s okay,” said Pennington.

A crowdfunding campaign has been registered with Click * Donate and they have also asked churches for help.

“We are appealing to family, friends and the general public to assist us in raising funds,” their appeal said.

To donate go to (