13-year old wants to explore her singing talent after successful heart transplant

Parusia Muhigirwa, 13, received life-changing surgery in February this year and is going strong.
Parusia Muhigirwa, 13, received life-changing surgery in February this year and is going strong.
Image: Western Cape health department

A successful heart transplant means a new beginning for 13-year old Parusia Muhigirwa, who wants to explore her singing talent.

In February Muhigirwa received a heart transplant during surgery by a team from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

She told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE the successful transplant brought relief for her and her parents. 

“I used to ask myself why I was the one who had to go through this. I didn’t want my parents to suffer. I’ve realised that with God everything is possible. You just need to have faith.

“I want to go out but I know I have to be very careful because I’m susceptible to infections. When everything is settled, I’m looking forward to doing a lot of things. I’m writing a book about my life and maybe a movie. I look forward to exploring my singing talent again,” she said.

Muhigirwa was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy which causes the heart muscle to become weak and dilated, according to the Western Cape health department. She received the transplant after four years of blood tests and countless visits to hospital. 

Prof Liesl Zühlke, a paediatric cardiologist at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, said most of her time is spent preparing patients and their families. 

“We spend a long time preparing children with these conditions for a heart transplant. It is a careful and considered joint decision between family, child and team. Offering a cardiac transplant service for children builds up the entire team and ensures we are able to offer children with heart failure a new lease on life and has a great impact on the entire service,” said Zühlke. 

Muhigirwa said she was not scared about receiving the transplant.

She said her journey has ignited a passion for medicine.

“It’s been a long and difficult journey. My life was just home and hospital. Each time it was blood tests and changing medications. 

“I want to be a heart doctor, but I don’t want to do surgery. I think a cardiologist because I’ll be able to relate well with the patient and their family because I’ve been through it myself,” she said. 

The health department said the team will continue to monitor the teen’s progress and she will continue to visit the hospital for monthly check-ups and blood tests. 

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