Zoey has 2 CHD’s – Congenital Heart Defects.

She was diagnosed with these when she was only 9 weeks old, she had surgery 2 weeks later at only 11 weeks old.

The 1st one, which in her case was the less serious of the 2, was a 6mm VSD – a Ventricular Septal Defect – although these are common in babies, Zoey’s was quite large given her age and how small she is and was located dangerously close to her heart valve. Although 6mm sounds small, her heart only measured at about 3cm, which meant the hole was quite big in comparison.

The 2nd one, which in her case was the serious, life threatening one, was an Aortic Coarctation – narrowing of the Aortic Vein – her Aortic Vein narrowed from 4.2mm down to 2.1mm.

The combination of her 2 CHD’s meant that her heart and lungs were working twice as hard to pump enough blood through her body, whilst at the same time her heart and lungs were being flooded with oxygen poor blood due to the VSD, her heart was trying to compensate for the restricted blood flow through the narrow Aorta and she was at risk of heart failure.

3 weeks ago our beautiful baby girl had open heart surgery.

Her surgeries were needed to close the hole in her heart and to reconstruct her Aorta using her own pericardium tissue.

We’ve chosen to share her story and very selective photos of her journey to show everyone how incredibly strong our little girl has been and how blessed we’ve been throughout this very scary time. And to hopefully be a ray of hope for any parents facing this, to say, “It’s going to be okay, your little baby is stronger than you know, you will be scared and you will cry, but its going to be okay”.

Some of these photos are hard to look at, which is why we aren’t posting all of them and we’ve chosen not to post any photos from the day of her surgery.

These photos are still very clear in our minds and captured some of the hardest and saddest days of our journey as parents so far and her life.

Please bare that in mind if you decide to carry on reading this story.

We are eternally thankful to Zoey’s team of incredible Dr’s at the Sunninghill Hospital.

She was fortunate enough to have one of the best Pediatric Cardiologist in the country as well as one of the leading Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeons in the world and top in the country.

Thank you to Dr Greenwood Sinyangwe her Cardiologist. Who diagnosed Zoey’s CHD’s, and kept in touch with us constantly to check up on her until surgery was scheduled. He is the kindest and most caring Dr. He showed us such compassion and patience throughout this journey and continues to do so.

Thank you to Dr Joanne Blackenberg who performed Zoey’s CT Angiogram. She was a calm and comforting voice to a mommy who couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I will forever remember her bringing Zoey out after her CT Angiogram and telling us she was just going to enjoy the cuddles a little longer as she stood holding her.

Dr Krishnee Naidoo her anesthetist, who kept us updated throughout her surgery on the day and was ready to answer any questions we had with such confidence and kindness.

And of course lastly, to Dr Erich Schürman, her surgeon and co founder of the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute. His calm demeanor and humility reassured us every step of the way and he took the time to explain everything to us in a way we could make sense of it all.

They are a remarkable team of people, doing incredible work.” 

Here are some photos of her time in the hospital with some details and some photos of her now.

I’ve shared photos of the day of her surgery as well, and the day her lung collapsed. These were never shared and decided to share them for the mommies that need hope.

Little Princess Zoey is doing very well, and growing stronger every day !