Baby born with heart outside his chest

RARE CONDITION: Baby Ashleigh Louw was born with his heart outside the chest at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Pic:Siddique Davids/Gauteng Health and Social Development © Unknown
RARE CONDITION: Baby Ashleigh Louw was born with his heart outside the chest at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Pic:Siddique Davids/Gauteng Health and Social Development © Unknown

ANASTACIA Louw of Eldorado Park in Johannesburg was ecstatic when she found out she was pregnant in March last year.

ANASTACIA Louw of Eldorado Park in Johannesburg was ecstatic when she found out she was pregnant in March last year.

Like any expectant mother she imagined what her child would look like.

Throughout her pregnancy she was told by the doctors that she was carrying a healthy baby who had a normal heartbeat. But last Friday the mother of three got the shock of her life when she saw her precious baby for the first time.

His heart was beating outside his chest. He has a rare abnormality.

Baby Ashleigh was born with an extremely rare heart condition known as pentalogy of Fallot ectopia cordis and omphalocele. Half of his rib cage did not develop and the heart is covered by a thin layer of skin.

Ashleigh was born at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. He is the first such case to be recorded at the hospital.

Now Louw is pleading for any person who can help her son to let them know.

"I'm exhausted and in pain. I have not slept since the day I gave birth to my son. Each day I have to be in hospital to meet different specialists who explain that Ashleigh's case is rare and they are still deciding what to do," Louw said last night.

"I pray to God each day to help the doctors help my child. Although he is my third baby it feels like he is the first.

"If anybody out there can help my boy please let us know," she pleaded.

Medical experts at Chris Hani-Baragwanath and the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa (WSPCCA) at Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg are putting their heads together to find a way to help Ashleigh.

Lynda Bleazard, chief executive at the WSPCCA, said yesterday that Ashleigh's condition was very rare and delicate.

"I have never seen anything like it in South Africa. We are communicating with the baby's doctors and would be happy to assist where we can," she said.

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