Cape Town – A feisty, fun-loving and energetic toddler has defied the odds after spending nearly two months in hospital last year.
It has been just more than a year since Muhammad Yusuf Taliep underwent a long segment slide tracheoplasty and pulmonary artery sling repair, after he was born with a narrow windpipe.
Since the operation, the now-18-month-old ‘s health has been good. However, as his new windpipe is still relatively small for his age, he can develop noisy breathing when he gets a chest infection.
Muhammad Yusuf was born with a narrowed windpipe, a smaller right lung and an abnormal artery supplying blood to the left lung. He was also born with two other associated rare conditions called a left pulmonary artery sling and a congenital small right lung.
Paediatrician and paediatric pulmonologist at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital Dr Fiona Kritzinger said the main artery supplying blood to his left lung was wrapped around the lower end of the trachea, compressing the lower end of the trachea further.
“The pulmonary artery to the right lung and the right lung itself was never fully developed before birth and remained small after birth. The combination of the narrowed trachea, the abnormal position of the left pulmonary artery and a small non-functioning right lung, made him exceptionally vulnerable to episodes of life-threatening airway blockage and/or pneumonia,” she said
His surgery was completed on October 1 last year by a team of doctors including Kritzinger, paediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon Shazia Peer, paediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Andre Brooks, and anaesthetist Marie Bosman.
Once surgery was completed, Muhammad Yusuf was sedated and connected to a extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a highly-specialised heart and lung life support system, for 24 hours. He spent another few weeks on a ventilator, before he was finally weaned off breathing support and declared well enough to be discharged on November 21 last year.
“This operation of the trachea was very risky due to the fact that it is so rare and a vulnerable area in the breathing of a human.
“What made it even more dangerous is that it had to be done with a cardiac surgeon to divert the pulmonary sling from the heart to the only functional lung. Pulmonary artery sling is considered a rare condition that affects roughly 1 in 17 to 20 0000 children; 65% to 80% of these cases would have an associated tracheal stenosis and even less will have a hypoplastic lung.”
Muhamammad Yusuf’s mother, Shameema Abader, said: “At 20 weeks we found out about the narrowing of the arteries and the sling. Every time we went for a scan we received sad news. We met with the paediatric cardiologist a few times in the gynaecologist’s rooms.
“From 34 weeks, I went in every week for a scan to monitor the heartbeat and growth of the baby. At 37 weeks doctors said the baby isn’t growing so will take him out at 38 weeks,” she said.
“After the operation, the family felt exhausted. We cried and prayed that he pulled through. He was so small. He never gave up and fought hard. We can now enjoy him with our family. He is full of energy, fun and a loving child who just wants to play,” she added.