EMOTIONS run high at Netcare Clinton Hospital’s Paediatric unit and the waiting room filled with hopeful parents, family members and friends.
Samantha Willemse, a 29-year-old mother, is one of those parents, supported by a close friend from church, Anusha Gowriah, and you are greeted by a heartwarming smile from baby Caylum Willemse as he continues to fight.
Caylum was born on January 12 and diagnosed with TOF and OA by Netcare’s Dr Charles Caraphinha, and later diagnosed with Tracheobronchomalacia.
A child who has a problem with the oesophagus (the feeding tube) and the trachea (the windpipe), is called tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF) and oesophageal atresia (OA).
The fistula is a connection between the trachea and the oesophagus, which may lead to problems with breathing.
An atresia means that there is no way for food to pass into the stomach, due to the gap between the upper and the lower parts of the oesophagus, so an operation will be needed to correct these problems.
Caylum has been in hospital since March 20 and in ICU since May 9. He has gone for an aortapexy for the tracheamalacia and still has recurring episodes where he stops breathing.
In March a CAT scan was done. Caylum has a 70 per cent collapse in his left main bronchus leading to the lung and has been resuscitated nine times in his short life.
“We have done CPR twice on him ourselves and doctors thought that Caylum would have brain damage,” Samantha said.
”They have come up with a preventative plan and they have kept him stable for almost a month now. I have never seen a hospital that cares so much for their patients.”
Formerly from Springs, Samantha has now relocated to Meyersdal, where she has been staying for the past three months, leaving behind her nine-year-old daughter, Charlotte, with her grandparents
“She’s been affected by her brother’s condition, but she seems to be coping much better now, with school as well,” Samantha added.
Following many attempts to contact various doctors to assist with Caylum’s condition, Samantha tracked down doctor Rusty Jennings, from Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the estimated costs are over R1-million and it may be months before the doctor will be able to fly out to perform the complex operation needed.
“I spoke to him last week. He is unsure as to when he will be available and told me to be strong,” she said.
Samantha no longer works as she spends every day at Caylum’s side.
Her husband, Wayne Willemse, works as a factory manager in Delmas, Springs. “Financially, things are a struggle, however, God provides,” Samantha said.
Supported by Rivers Church, in Sandton, and the faith that there will be a divine intervention, the Willemse family bravely soldiers on.
Caylum’s condition has improved over the last few days. On July 5, doctors took off the airvo and all the probes. Samantha was allowed to take Caylum outside for 10 minutes, to get some sun therapy. Caylum responded very well to this treat and enjoyed being outdoors for a while.
“This experience has made me realise that it is very important to learn CPR,” Samantha advised. “I would also like to encourage other parents with children who have serious medical conditions to have faith. God has got it.”
Samantha is a great source of encouragement to other parents she encounters at the hospital. For more information or details of upcoming fund-raiser and his progress can be followed on the ”Caylum Willemse” Facebook page.