Special Feature: Victor's Story

09 Feb 2022
Baby Victor, born October 2021
09 Feb 2022

Our second installment in a series of CHD patient profiles, Victor's story (as told by his mother) highlights the importance of decisive action on the part of CHD parents.

I first found out about Victor’s heart condition - coarctation of the aorta - when I took him to Tygerberg Hospital because I saw he was struggling to breathe at 3 days old. The doctors at Tygerberg told me to take him to Red Cross Children’s Hospital for specialist care.

In the beginning I thought I could have been the cause of my son’s heart condition and was worried he would not survive. The doctors at Red Cross explained my son’s condition to me and that it was nothing I did that caused it. They told me congenital heart defects are actually very common and sometimes there is no way of telling if your child has a heart problem until they are born.

The doctors at Red Cross advised that Victor needed to have a procedure on his heart. Initially, I was in a lot of shock because I wasn’t aware anything was wrong with my child even though I went for routine check-ups at the clinic throughout my pregnancy. I stayed up many nights worrying and watching my child. However, as time went by, I gained strength and faith as I saw that the doctors were helping my son.

Victor is now a happy and healthy four-month-old baby. He has already had two procedures to fix the narrowing of his aorta and might need another at the end of the year. My advice to other mothers is to take your child to the hospital immediately if you notice they are struggling to breathe and make sure to do regular check-ups with your doctor as well as keep your faith.

Blessings’ story is not uncommon. Oftentimes congenital heart defects, like coarctation of the aorta, only present at birth or even in adulthood. As a parent it is important to ensure your baby has a cardiac review once they are born and to take your baby to the hospital immediately if you notice any of the following signs:

  • rapid (fast) heartbeat
  • rapid (fast) breathing
  • swelling of the legs, tummy or around the eyes
  • extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • a blue tinge to the skin or lips (cyanosis)
  • tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding

Want to know more? Take a look at this fact sheet for more information.