Hole-in-the-heart girl cries for help… Needs N4m for corrective surgery

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By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
The family of little Miss Stephanie Akeni has appealed to non-governmental organisations, philanthropists and public spirited individuals to come to their aid in raising N4 million needed for surgery to save her life.

Stephanie Akeni aged 11, a JSS 1 student of New Total Child Academy in Yenagoa, according to her father, Chief Walter Akeni has been diagnosed with a hole in her heart and needs N4 million for corrective surgery to save her life.

*Stephanie Akeni...”Please help me, I don’t want to die”

Chief Akeni said his daughter has been suffering from fainting spells recently and that doctors were even surprised that she is still alive as her condition seems to be congenital.

The father said Stephanie, according to doctors report, ought to have had the surgery since she was an infant, but that her condition only became known after she fainted at school sometime in November last year and she was rushed to the school clinic for first aid.

More serious condition

“After administering first aid at the school, the doctor suspected a more serious condition and referred her to the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Yenagoa following complaints of fatigue and difficulty in breathing where the cardiologist carried out some tests on her,” he said.

In the referral letter to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, signed by Dr. Onotume Okemena, the FMC, Yenagoa said Stephanie was too small for her age and “mildly cyanosed with no digital clubbing”.

The letter stated further: “A pan systolic murmur (Grade IV) which radiates to the axilla was found. Result of chest x-ray and Echocardiography suggestive of large VSD”.

At UPTH, Stephanie was referred to a private clinic, Divine Heart Foundation, for further tests using echo sounding equipment to determine if she actually has a hole in her heart.

The paediatric cardiology echo report from Divine Heart Foundation signed by Dr. Barbara Otaigbe said, among other things, that Stephanie has a hugely dilated left atrium, severe right ventricular hypertrophy, non-restrictive subaortic VSD and 70 percent overriding aorta and aorto-mitral discontinuity.

Dr. Otaigbe, a consultant paediatrician/paediatric cardiologist diagnosed “double outlet right ventricle with pulmonary stenosis and commented that Stephanie “requires urgent total intracardiac repair”.

Little Stephanie has since stopped going to school as her medical condition has worsened and also brought a lot of pressure upon the family who have to daily manage her condition to avoid any further complications.

The troubled father explained that the doctors have referred them to India where Stephanie could have surgery that will cost N4million, but as it is difficult to raise the money, Stephanie’s condition has continued to deteriorate.

Chief Akeni, a lawyer by profession, said they have resorted to prayers since their ordeal began and appealed to the Bayelsa State Government, the Kanu Heart Foundation,  Aruera Reachout Foundation, non-governmental organisations, philanthropists and public-spirited individuals to come to their aid.

Stephanie’s mother, Gloria, also joined her husband in appealling for aid so as to save the life of her daughter saying: “I have nobody to run to”. Also lamenting her plight and the sickness that has come to trouble her life, Stephanie said: “I wish somebody can come to our aid so that I can have surgery as soon as possible. I want to live a normal life like every other girl of my age. I pray that God will do something for us soon. I don’t want to die”.

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