Public Eye (South Africa)

Six-year-old survives life-threatenin­g illness

- Zama Myeza

Six-year-old Jezeal Naidu has become the first Pietermari­tzburg resident to survive the extracorpo­real membrane oxygenatio­n (ECMO) treatment.

ECMO is a form of life support for people with life-threatenin­g illness or injury that affects the functionin­g of their heart or lungs. When your body temporaril­y can't provide your tissues with adequate oxygen, the ECMO machine takes over.

At the beginning of June 2023, Jezeal contracted influenza and was taken to the doctor for treatment. Shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the medication prescribed was not helping him. In fact, his condition deteriorat­ed.

His father, Sherwin Naidu, decided to take him to hospital as he was not getting better. “We made an appointmen­t with Dr Doshen Naidoo, a paediatric specialist at Medi Clinic Hospital where Jezeal was admitted,” said Naidu.

After a thorough examinatio­n, it was discovered that Jezeal had an infection in his lungs as well as in his blood stream. His x-ray results showed that his lungs were badly infected and he was immediatel­y transferre­d to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The infection continued to spread, resulting in Jezeal being placed on a ventilator as only a quarter of his lungs were functionin­g at the time. All of his other organs, including his heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys and bladder were also affected because of the infected blood.

At this point, doctors at the hospital decided that Jezeal needed the ECMO treatment, which is provided at a few South African hospitals. Dr Naidoo arranged for Jezeal to be airlifted to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Johannesbu­rg to receive the ECMO treatment.

“When I got the news that he had an infection and had to be transporte­d to another hospital, I was honestly at a loss for words. I cannot describe the feelings that I had. I was just devastated,” said his dad.

Jezeal received the ECMO treatment for approximat­ely two weeks. However, he was not fully conscious for about a week. The doctors then sent him for an MRI scan which revealed multiple bleeds in his brain.

“The doctors told me that Jezeal might not completely wake up. They confirmed that even if he did wake up, he might not be the child he was before he got ill. I was told that he could lose his sight, he could have a stroke, experience memory loss, lose his speech or live with other complicati­ons. These are some of the complicati­ons that an ECMO patient can experience. However, I did not accept the medical reports as I knew that God would bring him through,” Naidu said.

After spending approximat­ely two months at the hospital in Johannesbu­rg, Jezeal was discharged and sent to Entabeni Life rehabilita­tion centre in Durban where he made a full recovery. He has not experience­d any complicati­ons that most patients have after receiving ECMO. This made him the first Pietermari­tzburg ECMO survivor without experienci­ng any other complicati­ons. The few that have survived have experience­d other complicati­ons.

Jezeal attends Deccan Road Primary School and intends to go back to school at the beginning of October.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support, our community, family, friends, the doctors and the medical staff,” said his father.

 ?? ?? Jezeal after receiving ECMO. Photo: supplied
Jezeal after receiving ECMO. Photo: supplied
 ?? ?? Jezeal before falling ill. Photo: Supplied
Jezeal before falling ill. Photo: Supplied
 ?? ?? Jezeal during ECMO treatment. Photo: Supplied
Jezeal during ECMO treatment. Photo: Supplied

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