Phalo Gayiya, a 7-year-old boy from Zwelethemba has received a new heart thanks to one good samaritan and the help of a community.
Gayiya, a learner at Worcester Preparatory, was diagnosed with a rare medical condition called dilated cardiomyopathy in March this year . After complaints of tiredness and no response to medication, a doctor gave his parents the news, which his father, Thapelo Ramasesane, explains was “a shock and difficult to understand and accept.”
The disease attacks the muscles of the heart, at times causing heart failure. Compared to normal children his age, out of a healthy 100%, Phalo’s heart operates at just under 10%.
As one of the vital organs, the heart is identified as the centre of the entire body, the seat of life, or emotion, reason, purpose or the mind.
It is for this very organ that a policeman, husband and father of three from Hex Park, that wants to stay anonymous has started the Share Your Heart Campaign.
Four years ago the good samaritan, was diagnosed with stage 4 sinus cancer and had to transport himself to Panorama Hospital, an hour away from Worcester, for an emergency operation. At the time he was diagnosed a tumour the size of a tennis ball had already spread two centimetres into his brain.
Doctors could not guarantee the procedure would be a success but insisted that they needed to try. Halfway through the process, he was pushed to an extent where suicide was the only option. “Many thoughts were floating through my head but the thought that my then four-year-old son could be without a father was the scariest. Who was going to look after him?” he asked.
After the operation the doctor revealed that the extra two centimetres could not be removed and that he would have to go for extensive chemotherapy.
Jayin had to depend on his friends and family to take him to and from the hospital every day for six weeks, because he could not afford to stay over.
Although cured since his last check-up in November 2015, he has not forgotten what cancer has taken away from him. The loss of his appetite and severe weight loss of a once athletically built man. Jayin has devoted his life to be a spark to others who struggle.
The policeman heard about Phalo’s condition and immediately rallied every resource he had to help pay for the expensive medical costs.
“It was amazing to hear that he was going to assist us, I never thought that he would do something like this. I see him not only as a colleague, but as a friend, you don’t find people like him every day,” said Phalo’s father, Thapelo.
After a couple of weeks, a plane delay and an ambulance rush, Phalo Gayiya received a new heart and a solid chance at life on Mandela Day.
His parents were overcome with emotion when they heard the operation at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Hospital had been a success.
“I was so emotional, I started crying,” father Thapelo Ramasesane told News24 on Tuesday, after visiting his sedated son twice in his ICU ward.
“I don’t know what to think or say or do. He has been in and out of hospital many times. We have been hoping and praying for him to get a heart.”
Hospital spokesperson Michelle Norris said the boy was prepared for surgery with Dr Susan Vosloo around 11:00 on Monday and waited as the plane flew the precious cargo from Johannesburg. The aircraft was held up momentarily, raising concerns about the window period for the donor heart staying viable without oxygen running out.
“They communicated to say ‘the heart has arrived, we are on our way, we have just got onto the N2 and will be there soon’. It felt like five minutes that it took them to get here,” said Norris.
The heart arrived at the hospital around 14:30. The operation took a couple of hours and the medical team was happy with his progress.
“Phalo is doing exceptionally well. He is still in our kid’s ICU and will probably be ventilated and only woken up tomorrow morning,” said Norris.
Recovery takes three to four months but they hoped he would be able to start school in January next year again.