Courageous and beautiful nine-year old, Dané Pieterse, has had as many operations as birthdays. She was born with a rare Vacteral Syndrome – which is a complex co-occurrence of birth defects that have affected her vertebrae, kidneys, bladder, heart and trachea. Her mom, Sharon shares her journey with us that started in her home town of Bloemfontein in the Free State in 2005. After two initial operations in Bloemfontein, Sharon heard about the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and the specialist paediatric medical care they offered. Due to Dané’s complex syndrome she needed a host of multi-disciplinary medical experts to help her heal and underwent specialised surgery performed by several paediatric surgeons at the Hospital. This has consisted of excellent collaboration between the Paediatric Renal (led by Dr Gajjar), Paediatric Urology (led by Prof Lazarus) and Paediatric Surgery (led by Prof Numanoglu) Teams.
Mom, Sharon applauds the Hospital for not only their world-class medical doctors all under one roof, but also for their warmth and compassion. She has developed a special relationship with Mignon and calls her or the rest of the Renal/Urology Team when she has any questions. The Pieterse’s say it doesn’t matter that they travel the 1000km from Bloemfontein for their check-ups as all the doctors know Dané and they feel confident in their expert care. They have become a team with a common purpose.
Today the family were visiting to plan Dané’s forthcoming kidney transplant. And her kidney donor, who will be giving the gift of life, is none other than mom Sharon. Dané will spend time in the hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit recovering. This ICU, the biggest in Africa, will soon be upgraded and expanded by the Children’s Hospital Trust to increase capacity and efficiency. It has an extraordinary team of people, led by Professors Andrew Argent and Mignon McCulloch, whose international collaborations have rolled out globally. As the dedicated staff continues to work tirelessly to give Dané a chance at a normal childhood, we will continue to follow her brave journey with compassion.
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