Hospital celebrates the recovery of “miracle child”
Thursday, 5 November 2020, Born prematurely at 34 weeks’ gestation, and surviving two life-threatening medical conditions, two-month-old Marique Kloppers of Johannesburg has beaten daunting odds to finally be home with her overjoyed parents.
Baby Marique, who was born and cared for at Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton for a total of 105 days, was recently given a rousing send off from the staff members and doctors.
“During her stay at the hospital, Marique won the hearts of many doctors and staff members, who all wanted to celebrate her recovery and wish the little girl and her parents, André and Anré Kloppers, a fond farewell,” says paediatric pulmonologist, Dr Ashley Jeevarathnum, who heads the Paediatric ICU at the hospital’s paediatric centre of excellence. “Everyone who came to wish the brave family well for the future was incredibly moved by the occasion.”
“There were a number of times when we were so scared that we were going to lose Marique, so I cannot tell you how relieved and grateful we are to have her with us today,” adds her father, Rev. André Kloppers, who is a Johannesburg church minister. “Some of the doctors at the hospital were deeply concerned that she wouldn’t make it, and sometimes we can’t believe that she did. She is a real survivor and our little miracle.”
“That Marique was able to survive is in large part thanks to the extraordinary care she received at the hospital and its neonatal and paediatric intensive care units. The doctors, nurses and other staff members there were absolutely fantastic, providing us with ongoing guidance, and showing the greatest levels of care, throughout this difficult ordeal. The care that my wife and Marique received at the hospital was world class and we are most grateful to all who were involved,” adds Rev. Kloppers.
According to Dr Jeevarathnum, Marique was born at Netcare Clinton Hospital on 17 June by caesarean section. After the birth, she was diagnosed by neonatologist Dr Klaas Mnisi and paediatric surgeon Dr Charles Carapinha, as having a congenital tracheo-oesophageal fistula, which is an abnormal connection between the trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus (foodpipe).
“Our paediatric surgeon, Dr Carapinha, undertook a complicated but highly successful tracheo-oesophageal fistula repair, with paediatric anaesthesiologist, Dr Phillippa Penfold, assisting. Marique was finally ready to be discharged six weeks after her birth,” explains Dr Jeevarathnum.
“Unfortunately, Marique was only home for two weeks when my wife Anré shouted to me that she had stopped breathing,” adds Rev. Kloppers. “This came as a tremendous shock and a friend and I did infant CPR on Marique, and we rushed her back to hospital.”
Marique was diagnosed with an acute life-threatening obstructive apnoea ⎯ episodes of her breathing stopping due to the collapse of the lower airway and had to be ventilated. Dr Jeevarathnum says that the apnoea occurred because of obstruction and narrowing of the trachea due to it being so flaccid from the initial congenital malformation.
After obtaining many opinions from South African and international experts, Dr Carapinha and ear nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, Dr Tim Capon, elected to insert a tracheostomy, which involves creating an opening in Marique’s neck in order to place a breathing tube into the windpipe. Dr Jeevarathnum says this is a temporary measure to allow Marique to be taken off the ventilator.
“Finally, after a further two-month hospital stay, Marique could be discharged into the care of her parents. Mrs Kloppers stayed a further two weeks in hospital to get trained on Marique’s care at home and she is currently fed through a feeding tube every three hours and sleeps with the support of oxygen. I will see Marique in a month’s time to ensure that her airways remain unobstructed. She is doing exceedingly well, and her prognosis is excellent. We hope that she will go on to outgrow the condition, otherwise she may require a follow up procedure at a later date,” notes Dr Jeevarathnum.
“I must say that Marique is exceptionally fortunate to have survived. I am inclined to agree with her parents that her survival is something of a miracle and we are all celebrating her recovery.”
“I have to visit a lot of hospitals in the course of my work and I can really say that Netcare Clinton Hospital and its staff and doctors are among the most professional I have ever encountered,” says Rev. Kloppers. “Anré and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in Marique’s care, from the doctors to all the nursing and support staff. The care that they provided was so personal and really helped to get us through.
“Anré and I decided from an early stage that the situation was much larger than us and was going to be exceptionally tough, and we decided to roll with the punches and place our trust in the medical team. The whole experience with Marique and the hospital was rather like us running a relay race with Hussein Bolt, and we are so pleased that we now have our baby girl home with us,” he relates.
“The doctors did not hold back in explaining to us what was going on and what we could expect every step of the way. They gave us confidence that Marique was in the best possible hands. It was incredibly comforting to know that we had the support of everyone there throughout this experience. Even now we receive calls from the hospital to check how we are all doing. We are grateful to have access to the doctors and staff of this remarkable hospital.”
“Marique is such a trooper and is steadily growing stronger by the day. She loves the music of Leonard Cohen and readily falls asleep to it.”
“Marique’s experience testifies to the expertise and compassion of the healthcare professionals at our hospital,” says Tendai Makwabarara, manager of Netcare Clinton Hospital. “It was a great privilege to have been able to assist this young fighter and her valiant and inspirational parents during their ordeal and we wish them all the best,” he concludes.
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