Pleas to help fix little Naledi’s heart
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Naledi Thahanyane is just four-years-old but she has already faced several devastating setbacks in her young life.
When she was just six months old, unforeseen circumstances saw her mother and a social worker placing her in the care of those at Juno Aurora Haven, a home for abused and neglected children in Johannesburg.
While this was a challenging transition for the then infant, Thahanyane quickly became part of the Sandton centre’s family.
Melody Eggar, a volunteer at the Juno Aurora Haven told The Saturday Star this week that the charismatic youngster with a captivating smile and who loves dressing up as her favourite Disney princesses, quickly stole the hearts of all those at the facility.
“When we met little Naledi, she was tiny and underdeveloped,” Eggar explained.
“With healthy food, love and encouragement, we have seen her blossom into the princess she is today.”
“She is such a vibrant, inquisitive, busy and loving child who steals the hearts of everyone who meets her.”
But just as she was settling in at her new home, a mandatory medical check-up ended in doctors discovering that she had a life-threatening heart defect.
“When Naledi was taken to a pediatrician for a regular checkup three years ago, it was discovered that she had a heart defect, a growth just below the left aorta,” said Eggar.
The Juno Aurora Haven volunteer explained that Thahanyane was just about a year old when she was diagnosed and that this infancy complicated matters even further.
Eggar said that in order for the growth to be removed by those at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital where she regularly went for consultations in her young life, it needed to increase in size.
But earlier this year, Thahanyane’s doctors finally approved for her surgery to go ahead.
“In May, upon seeing a slight trickle of blood mixing, Naledi’s doctor gave the go ahead for her to have surgery within the next six months,” Eggar said.
But while the news of the surgery, which could ultimately save the little girl’s life was celebrated, the youngster and her loved ones at the Juno Aurora Haven were dealt another devastating blow.
The procedure, which is scheduled to take place within the next two months, as well as her medication, medical supplies, sterilisation equipment and a home nurse would cost in excess of R100 000.
In a bid to raise funds for Thahanyane’s surgery and other medical needs, the Juno Aurora Haven recently teamed up with local crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy.
Through the organisation, which has previously raised over R200 million for various charities, individuals and causes across South Africa, a total of about R 12 250 has already been raised to correct the hole in the youngster’s heart.
“Unfortunately without the surgery Naledi's chances of survival or nil,” Eggar said.
She explained that while Thahanyane is currently in good spirits, she is still too young to understand her prognosis.
“Over the past few weeks Naledi has been tiring more easily and sleeping more than usual.”
“We are doing our best to keep her safe and keep her spirits up but we know that without this operation, she won’t be with us for her next birthday, and that’s too difficult to contemplate.”
Eggar added that the end of youngster’s medical challenges will also be welcomed by the other children at the home, who have all become a family, even though they are also not fully aware of what is happening.
“All the kiddies love each other and live together as siblings and most do not understand the situation.”
While Eggar understands that South Africans themselves are facing their own battles, particularly those imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, she hopes that they can open their hearts to Thahanyane’s struggles.
“We hope the public will support our BackaBuddy campaign so we can save our little earth angel.”
“The children of this country are our future and need to be protected and supported, and we believe any mother in our country can relate to this situation,” she said.
“Due to the severity of the situation, we are spreading the campaign as far and wide as possible, and even though a lot of people are not able to contribute financially - even though they would like to - we hope that in people sharing this plea the home can receive the assistance that is needed - be it in any shape or form.”
To donate to Thahanyane’s BackaBuddy campaign, visit or The BackaBuddy Facebook page for more information.