In August 2018 we were notified that our three-month-old daughter was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) with an absent pulmonary valve - a combination of heart defects that were present from birth and affect the structure of the heart and cause oxygen-poor blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Along with ToF, it was discovered that she had an absent pulmonary valve. We were told that she needed open-heart surgery before she was one year old.
At an angiogram the day before her surgery, we were informed that our little girl had five holes in her heart. On the 7th of February 2019, Our daughter had her successful open-heart surgery at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in South Africa in a procedure that lasted 6 hours.
In March 2019 we were given the go-ahead to fly with her for the first time, as we were in the middle of our emigration process to Ireland. After her last Synagis injection, on the 1st of May 2019, we were on a flight to our new home, Ireland.
We have a positive story with a happy ending which is not always the case. During the 4 days when she was in ICU, We met many families that were visiting children with similar heart conditions. We witnessed situations where families didn’t get the chance to hold their babies before they were rushed off to surgery only to lose them in theatre. We also met families from different walks of life that would end up with a lifetime of paying off medical bills due to not being on a medical plan with suitable coverage for Congenital Heart conditions. We were also made aware of families that would not be able to pay for the surgery and as a result, their children would not survive. If we were not on a medical plan that covered the operation we would have had to pay roughly one Million Rand (€57k) before they would have agreed to operate.
My concern during this time was for all the families that were digging themselves into a financial hole that they would probably spend the rest of their lives in and the families that would lose their children because they cannot afford the surgery. At the time I wished I could help at least one family but due to our emigration to Ireland and the uncertainty of what impact that would have on our finances I was not in a position to be able to do this.
Fast forward two and a half years (two Irish winters) and I’ve cooked up a plan to raise money to help someone afford to save their child's life.
In June 2022 I plan to attempt to break the world record cycling from the easternmost point of Ireland (Wicklow Head Lighthouse) to the Westernmost tip (Slea Head) a total distance of roughly 390km in less than thirteen and a half hours.
I plan to use this world record attempt to raise funds for the Maboneng Foundation. This Foundation is a non-profit fundraising vehicle, raising money to sponsor life-saving surgeries for South African children suffering from Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) and other life-threatening heart conditions. Visit their website for more information.