The story of Simphiwe Zitha and his life-changing heart surgery

Simphiwe Zitha was born with a hole in his heart diagnosed as a ventricular septal defect (VSD). This is his inspiring recovery story.

At five months, Simphiwe Zitha contracted a persistent flu virus while visiting his grandmother, Sylvia, in Johannesburg. The young boy from a small village in Giyani, Limpopo was so ill that his grandmother decided to take him to Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto, where he was given flu medication and sent home.

His flu persisted, however, so Sylvia decided to take her grandson to Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital where he was diagnosed with the heart condition.

Simphiwe was eventually transferred to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital where he was operated on by the hospital’s cardiac surgical team.

It is estimated that 12 in 1000 children in South Africa are born with a congenital heart condition. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) established its Cardiac Centre to treat these conditions and to offer care to children in need of cardiac intervention. Cardiothoracic Surgeon at NMCH, Dr Krubin Naidoo says that a lot of these cases go undetected. “Early treatment can make a significant difference in the lives of many of these children and through our Cardiac Centre at NMCH we can save more children with the support of the public.”

“It is very hard going through something like this with your grandchild; feeling hopeless when you look at him,” Sylvia recalls. “He had even stopped crying or showing any emotion when they drew blood or put him on an IV drip. The entire family spent so much time in the hospital room, just staring at the walls and feeling utterly helpless.”

Sylvia’s prayers were answered. The operation went well and Simphiwe only spent two days in the ICU recovering.

NMCH is a specialist referral and quaternary hospital and the second dedicated children’s hospital in South Africa. The hospital opened its doors to patients in June 2017 and offers critical services for children with complex illnesses.

Sylvia recalls being brought to tears when a nurse assured her that Simphiwe (now almost two years old) would make a full recovery and lead a full and normal life.

Says Sylvia:“The care, the love and the service our family received made us feel like we were part of the NMCH family, I pray that NMCH continues to do the good work of saving lives. Simphiwe is now healthy and strong. We are eternally grateful to NMCH.”

This month, you can commit to supporting children like Simphiwe to get the care that they need by donate towards NMCH’s Cardiac Centre. Click here to find out how you can donate.