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Toddler to get life-saving heart surgery in the US thanks to generosity of SA public

Three-year-old Kyleigh Kista will receive life-saving heart surgery in the US after R5m was raised through a crowd-funding campaign.
Three-year-old Kyleigh Kista will receive life-saving heart surgery in the US after R5m was raised through a crowd-funding campaign.
Image: Hope for Kyleigh Facebook page

The parents of a three-year-old Gauteng girl have managed to raise R5m in the nick of time for her to receive life-saving heart surgery in the US.

Serina Kista, mother of Kyleigh, who was diagnosed with a complex congenital heart defect at birth, started a crowd-funding campaign after receiving heartbreaking news from doctors that nothing more could be done for her daughter, except for a heart and lung transplant once her organs started to fail.

Known as tetralogy of fallot with pulmonary atresia, the condition was described by her cardiothoracic surgeon as a “monster in her chest”.

Kyleigh struggles to get rich oxygenated blood to circulate throughout her body because she was born without a pulmonary valve, and with underdeveloped arteries and a large hole in her heart.

She survives on two collateral arteries which are her main source of blood circulation, one of which has started to narrow.

“Local doctors have attempted nine surgical procedures on Kyleigh since birth, including three open-heart surgeries, to stimulate Kyleigh's arteries to grow without success,” said Serina.

“In November 2021, our world came crashing down when we were notified by her doctors that nothing further could be done for Kyleigh in SA. Her only option was to wait for her organs to start failing. At this point a heart and lung transplant would be considered, with limited donors and experience in the procedure.”

The couple reached out to Boston’s Children’s Hospital to review Kyleigh’s case.

“They proposed to do an innovative technique to repair her heart which they perform with great success at the hospital.

“Using Kyleigh’s current anatomy and reconstructing her blood vessels to flow effectively, while also incorporating her collateral arteries, is part of the procedure.”

The child has to have the surgery by no later than March.

Serina said all funds raised would be transferred directly to the Boston Children’s Hospital. They had until Sunday to make the full payment to kick off the process.

According to the Hope for Kyleigh Facebook page, the target has been reached.

“All proceeds and donations from here on will be put towards flights, accommodation and aftercare.”



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