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Toddler's heart is in the wrong place

By unknown | Jun 09, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Nhlanhla Nxoko might look like an ordinary child but he is extraordinarily special inside.

The bubbly 21-month-old boy from White City, Soweto, is not like other living humans. His heart is on the right side of his chest.

Doctors call this rare organ reversal dextrocardia, but the condition has not affected the way Nhlanhla lives his life. His doctors say he is doing just fine.

The physician at Chris HaniBaragwanath Hospital who treated Nxoko said dextrocardia was a rare condition.

"We do diagnose cases at the maternity ward but the infants don't usually pull through," he said. "In most case they die as a result of heart defects.".

Nhlanhla has not succumbed to the heart defects associated with this rare condition. One of his pulmonary arteries was partially closed, which affected the circulation of oxygen-rich blood in his body, so when he was three weeks old he underwent an operation to open the blocked artery.

Jane Nyoka, his grandmother and guardian, said Nxoko was a godsend.

"You can't tell that he is different," she said. "He does everything they do and often better. No matter how different he is, I would not trade him."

Nyoka has raised Nxoko since he was discharged from hospital. His mother dumped him and does not visit her little boy.

The Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa confirmed that Nxoko's case is rare. Randy Foye, the US basketball star, and Catherine O'Hara, a Canadian comedienne, also survived the condition.


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