NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – In 10 days time, baby Tamara (now baptised Bhakita), has to undergo major heart surgery to save her life.
Bhakita is five months, two weeks old.
The surgery has to be done before she is six months old on July 18.
To complicate matters, her heart condition – which was discovered by doctors when she was four months old – is complex and cannot be treated here in Kenya.
The doctors explained that Bhakita did not have the normal walls that divide the four heart chambers to separate clean and dirty blood (oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood).
“She was born as a normal baby. When she was four months old, she started losing weight. On further examination, the doctor found that she has a rare heart condition,” Bhakita’s mother recalls as she struggles to put on a brave face.
The diagnosis showed that Bhakita has one valve, meaning that clean and dirty blood mixes in the heart, a situation that tires lungs and can consequently lead to breathing complications.
The condition is often associated with Down’s Syndrome.
“Infants may also have trouble breathing and not grow well. Surgery is often done in infancy to close the hole and reconstruct the valves,” her medical summary done on June 7 indicates.
With such a condition, the body also lacks oxygen which results in failure of other crucial body organs.
“The doctor told us with time, if she does not undergo an urgent operation, her body colour will change to blue. So we will wake up one day and find that she has turned blue; when her body turns blue she cannot be operated on. Her kidneys will have collapsed and also all other body organs,” Bhakita’s mother Loise Mbuba explains.
Dr Naomi Gachara who is Bhakita’s paediatrician at the Mater Hospital’s Cardiac Clinic, says there is hope since her condition can be fully treated during infancy.
“She has complex congenital heart disease… Complete A-V canal defect with moderately to severe PAH. She requires total correction. As this type of surgery cannot be done locally, she is required to travel to India for total correction,” Dr Gachara explains.
PAH – Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and A-V – Atrioventricular canal defect is ‘a complete atrioventricular canal defect which is a ‘combination of defects including a large hole in the centre of the heart and a single common valve instead of the separate tricuspid and mitral valves’.
The triscupid and mitral valves ‘separate the upper left heart chamber from the lower left heart chamber, and helps control blood flow through the heart’.
Baby Bhakita’s surgery in India requires Sh1.5 million.
Speaking to Capital FM News from their humble abode on the second floor of a flat in Ongata Rongai, Bhakita’s mother narrated the tribulations of watching her baby undergo so much pain yet the family cannot afford the Sh1.5 million required to save her life in India.
They have been trying to raise the money since the doctor advised them to seek treatment in India.
However, they still have to cater for Bhakita’s temporary treatment that for now cleans her blood and protects her from a looming heart attack associated with the condition.
One of the drugs – a syrup in a small bottle – costs Sh8,000 and she has three similar ones that she uses on a daily basis.
According to her mother who abandoned her small business to take care of her daughter, the treatment has already drained them financially in the last two months.
She is now clinging on every little effort and hope that can keep her charming and innocent Bhakita alive.
“Bhakita is a beautiful girl, she plays a lot you wouldn’t know she has this condition. Please all those who can help me, I will appreciate.”
Bhakita sat on her mother’s laps playing with our microphone but from time to time cried.
Her mother gave her medicine, explaining that she is not supposed to cry for long as it tires her lungs very fast.
The family has so far raised only Sh40,000.
“I am pleading with well-wishers to please help us raise the Sh1.5 million to save Bhakita. She is a very brave girl, please help her,” her mother pleads.
Contributions can be sent to Bhakita Tamara Wahito, Jumbo Junior, 01105214720800, Cooperative Bank, Ongata Rongai Branch or M-PESA No. 0725 405 813