THE BOIKANYO FOUNDATION
One-year-old Kgabane Molefe, was born a twin to her mother, Portia Molefe.
When Portia, was eight-months pregnant with her twins, she lost her own mother, Kgabane’s grandmother. “I was stressed, and it triggered my other health issues, my blood pressure elevated. I only managed to see her grave three months after the burial,” says Portia.
Soon her twins were born and Portia had more challenges ahead of her. Kgabane was diagnosed with ventricular septal defect (VSD) a congenital heart defect. In this instance, she was born with two holes in her heart, but the other was too big, and it needed to be surgically closed.
Kgabane was underweight from birth and in striking comparison to her twin sister. Her mother recalls how the signs have always been there but how she didn’t realise it was a bigger problem. The most common VSD symptoms in babies include easily tiring when playing or eating, not gaining weight, rapid breathing or shortness of breath as well as poor eating.
On Boxing Day (26 December) last year, Kgabane’s family enjoyed a picnic together. Portia and her kids had visited her brother later that evening, in Orange Farm, a township located in the outskirts of Soweto. Portia describes the weather conditions on that day as “unsteady”. She later noticed that Kgabane was experiencing what she describes as “fluish symptoms” which she credited to the everchanging weather and the reason for Kgabane’s mild cold symptoms. “Later on, around midnight I noticed that her breathing was too fast,” Portia states.
Kgabane was rushed to a local clinic in Orange Farm. After tests were conducted the doctor said there is something wrong with her heart and she was transferred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Unfortunately, Kgabane was then diagnosed with Covid-19 and a murmur. “It was a bit confusing, but I’d be on my phone calling and asking questions, it was the only way to put myself at ease and be aware of what she had,” Portia remembers. After undergoing two echocardiograms she was diagnosed with VSD.
Kgabane was eventually referred to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) on the 08 June 2022. Exactly a month later, she underwent an operation and was placed in the intensive care unit for a period of 10 days.
Portia paints a vivid picture of her experience as a mother of a patient admitted at NMCH “You get (a sense of) some sort of sisterhood. You get the support you never expected. It’s just heart-warming.”
She further explains how the treatment she received from the nurses made her feel at ease. After spending nearly two months at NMCH, Kgabane’s surgery was a success and she will be discharged in the near future and hopefully get back to some form of normality.
Portia says she can’t wait to have her daughter in a homely atmosphere, surrounded by family, cooked meals and watching cartoons the whole day.
To the doctors, nurses and donors who played a role in saving her child’s life, Portia says, “Thank you to each and every one of you for giving my daughter a chance to live her life to the fullest. Thank you for being kind and professional. May you be blessed with strength to do the same for others. I am truly at awe by the commitment and love you show to your patients.
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CALL NICOLA PERRY ON 072 544 2800
South Africa’s Children Rely on Us. And We Rely on You.
The Boikanyo Foundation is reliant on the help of individuals, associations and companies to aid us in saving lives. Approximately R50,000 is all it will take to give a child a new chance at life. Any assistance that can be offered will be greatly appreciated.
The Boikanyo foundation was founded by the members of Round Table Golden East 181 in 2006. To date, GE 181 continues to provide administration and funding support to the foundation.