Heart Health

22 October 2009

New home for tiny heart patients

Albertina Sisulu and Jordan's Princess Haya Al Hussein on Wednesday opened a "care home" for children from around Africa, who have undergone heart surgery.

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Albertina Sisulu and Jordan's Princess Haya Al Hussein on Wednesday opened a "care home" for children from around Africa, who have undergone heart surgery.

The opening of the house, in Johannesburg's Sunninghill Hospital, coincided with "Ma Sisulu's" 91st birthday celebration.

The house was named after the princess's daughter, Sheikha Al Jalila.

"It is the hope of all the donors that this will be a special place of rest and relaxation for the parents of patients at the WSPCCA (Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa)," said Princess Haya. "We hope it will provide them with a temporary sanctuary at a very difficult time in their lives."

Accommodation for child and mother
The house can accommodate up to 14 people - seven children and seven mothers. The children live in the house for two days before surgery and five days post-surgery.

Sisulu arrived to a loud applause by guests, including celebrities and members of the WSPCCA. Princess Haya arrived shortly after, flanked by bodyguards, and, hand-in-hand with Sisulu, lifted a red ribbon to reveal a gold plaque bearing the name "Sheikha Al Jalila House".

The princess had injected a huge sum of money into the house, along with donations from several companies.

In a letter from former president Nelson Mandela, Sisulu was told her role in the country's struggle for freedom would never be forgotten. "There are very few people who are as old as we are now," Mandela said in his letter, which was read at the event.

Transport
Patsy Hartley, one of the house mothers, said the WSPCCA also provided mothers and their children with transport to and from their home countries. "We have to pay back mothers who for example, borrow money to travel from Zimbabwe... we also provide them with tickets to go back home."

One of the first children to live in the house is a two-week-old baby called Angel. She was abandoned in Kempton Park. Police found her in a rubbish bin. She will have open heart surgery in six weeks when she gains more weight.

Two more children, Ollarato and Nkgokena, aged five and one respectively, would also get surgery soon and join Angel in the house. The baby will be cared for by the house mothers after the operation. - (Sapa, October 2009)

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