Thirteen-year-old Parusia Muhigirwa has been given a second chance in life as she recovering well after her successful heart transplant in 2021.
Muhigirwa received her transplant during the second wave of COVID-19 in February 2021, thanks to a collaborative effort by the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and the Groote Schuur Hospital team.
The operation came after Muhigirwa had dilated cardiomyopathy which causes the heart muscle to become incredibly weak, floppy and enlarged. This is one of many reasons why children develop end-stage heart failure.
Now a year later, Muhigirwa shared her experience of her first year with a new heart indicating that she is grateful for more energy.
“I also don’t have to spend so much time in hospital which is great. I can go to school and see my friends. I can actually climb stairs now,” Muhigirwa explained.
When asked about how she felt, knowing that her surgery took place during the height of COVID-19 infections, Muhigirwa said she consulted with doctors about the risks of COVID-19, especially knowing she would be vulnerable after her transplant.
“That’s why I chose to get my vaccine when it was my turn, and my mother got hers: to ensure I am safe and we don’t need to worry,” Muhigirwa added.
Meanwhile, Professor Mignon McCulloch, who runs the paediatric Transplantation Services at Red Cross further mentioned that they are delighted with how well Muhigirwa is doing after her transplant.
“It really highlights fantastic teamwork between the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and Groote Schuur transplant teams. Her health and vitality is a credit to the fact that transplantation gives a second chance at life. We are really grateful to her donor and the family,” McCulloch said.
Picture: Western Cape Government