The mothers of both boys expressed relief this week at just how well their sons were doing, leading healthy, normal lives.
Ilario Arries, 3, of Kariega, and Achuma Tshalana, 8, of KwaBhaca, were operated on at the Busamed Private Hospital in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, to fix holes in their hearts.
After two successful surgeries, the boys returned home at the end of March.
The operations were made possible by the Pelo Foundation, a non-profit organisation that raises funds for and creates awareness about children in serious need of heart treatment and surgeries.
Achuma’s mother, Khanyo Tshalana, said: “I am very excited that my boy received the heart surgery and his health has improved, tremendously.”
“You can’t believe that he returned to school three weeks after the operation.
“Before, he had a problem where he became tired while playing with other children.”
Ilario’s mom, Michelle Arries, was impressed by her son’s healthy appetite after the surgery.
“My baby is now eating like a normal child and recovering very well,” she said.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped him to undergo the much-needed treatment.
“When I was told we must travel to Johannesburg for the operation I was worried, thinking that my son might die.
“I would like to urge all parents facing the same problem not to be afraid, and to take their children for the operation because it is the best thing to do.”
SA has hundreds of children on the heart surgery waiting list.
It is estimated that one out of every 1,000 babies is born with congenital heart disease and that every six hours a newborn is added to the surgery waiting list.
The Eastern Cape alone has more than 200 children on the waiting list for heart surgery.
The Pelo Foundation has partnered with the Busamed Private Hospital Group and Wings and Wishes, which transports the children and an accompanying guardian to the Busamed Hospital and back home.
The foundation aims to raise more funds to ensure that children with congenital heart disease receive life-saving surgery and continue to receive medical treatment, giving them a chance to lead normal lives.
Since its inception in June 2021, the Pelo Foundation and its partners have helped seven children to receive surgery.
BIG DAY: Ilario Arries, 3, of Kariega, is comforted by his mother, Michelle, before being wheeled into surgery by the staff at the Busamed Private Hospital in Johannesburg