Joshua van der Merwe is a 7 year old boy with multiple, complex heart defects, including single ventricle, pulmonary atresia, prima atrial septal defect, transposition of the great arteries as well as some other minor ones. He has had 5 cardiac catheterizations and 3 heart surgeries. The last caths were in preparation for the Fontan and he is a prime candidate.
Joshua was removed from his birth mom at birth due to drug addiction and no placement could be found for him because of his life threatening condition. His foster mom, Elmarie Brynard, adopted him and has been fighting a defunct government system to keep him alive. At the moment, only 1 open heart surgery is being done per week in their province and there is concern that he will deteriorate before he can receive the Fontan, making recuperation harder. At the moment, his oxygen levels are around 75%. They cannot afford medical aid or private care.
His condition is certainly rare (CHD is the most common birth defect, but critical, complex CHD like his is rare) and it is life threatening. Drs are amazed that he is alive after going 4 months without diagnoses, he almost did not survive his first surgery and Elmarie was guaranteed he would have brain damage. There is no sign of brain damage, but his low oxygen levels leads to high red cell count (thick blood) that puts strain on all his organs. It also inhibits his growth and energy levels and makes him super vulnerable to infections. For that reason he has not started school yet, but they are homeschooling and he is doing well.
The concern is with the backed-up government system, he gets sicker while he waits for the Fontan, which is huge open heart surgery with many possible complications. It is therefore vital to raise funds in order to have Joshua done at a private hospital.
The cardiologist that first diagnosed him, has started an NPO in order to help kids like Joshua. She was able to negotiate very good rates at a Life hospital for his catheterisation. With open heart surgery, getting a quote is almost impossible, because he could be out of hospital in as little as 10 days or complications can arise, in which case it could be months. If we could just cover the first week or 2 in order to help him sooner, the chances of a better outcome is higher. In case of complications, he may have to be transferred to a government hospital when funds run out, but at least he was given the best chance…
Most children with his type of CHD have the Fontan around or before their 3rd birthday. Joshua just turned 7. He still sleeps with Elmarie so she can keep a close eye on his breathing and when he has been playing, his lips turn very blue…. She can’t and don’t want to stop him from being a child, but is concerned about the strain on especially his half a heart that is pumping this thick blood.
Drs have told them that heart failure is in his future. They have no idea when. Then, only a transplant will save him. Mom is desperate to delay that as long as possible, and together with your help we can make a significant difference in their lives. Together we can change Joshua`s world, one bracelet at a time!
Fundraising for Joshua van der Merwe
With All My Heart Bracelets for Joshua; consisting of red wooden beads with crystals – and a Tree of life-Heart, Faith, or Angel charm. To place an order, contact the agent in your area or shop online. Alternatively, please consider a donation; any and all donations welcome. Please remember to use “Joshua vd Merwe” as reference.
“Every time my heart beats, it spreads one more ounce of love that I can give to the world.”