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Zimbabwe Family Seeks $20,000 For Child's Heart Operation

  • Safari Njema

Pretty Mandere and son, Taropafadzwa by the oxygen tank

Pretty Mandere and son, Taropafadzwa by the oxygen tank

A Chitungwiza couple is desperate for help to send their child for heart surgery out of the country.

The seven-month old baby, who was recently discharged from Parirenyatwa Hospital, cannot breathe on his own and the family has to buy oxygen to sustain him.

Pretty Mandere and son, Taropafadzwa by the oxygen tank

Pretty Mandere and son, Taropafadzwa by the oxygen tank

Every three days, the family forks out $30 to refill an oxygen tank, rented from BOC Gases, and has become the lifeline for their child.

Both parents are trained nurses who are in their late twenties. The husband, Tafadzwa Mandere, works at Birchenough Bridge hospital while his wife, Pretty, is yet to secure a job.

Their ailing son was diagnosed with Down syndrome at the age of four.

Down syndrome is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the mental and physical development of a child. Taropafadzwa cannot sit or crawl.

Mrs. Mandere says her husband was shocked two months ago, when she broke the news to him that their son had been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

“It is said that the baby has three congenital abnormalities, which means the baby has three holes which needed to be closed when it was still in-utero but it failed,” said Mrs.Mandere.

She spent two months at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare while doctors carried out tests. The family is hoping for assistance from well-wishers to help fund Taropafadzwa’s open-heart surgery in South Africa or India.

Her sister-in-law, Rumbidzai Mandere, explains how tough the situation is.“Doctors say the blood in the child’s heart is mixing carbon dioxide and oxygen, which causes difficulties in breathing. The baby is neither growing nor gaining weight,” she said.

“At times she would call during the night and say the baby is not responding. The situation was made worse by the fact that they were sleeping under the beds. Sometimes I had no money to buy food for the mother and the child.”

Two weeks ago Mrs. Mandere and her baby were discharged since the hospital had no capacity to carry operate the on the child. The search for well-wishers is still on. She says having the baby constantly on oxygen is challenging.

“The oxygen itself needs refilling after every three days which means money and transport to carry the tank. So we have to hire someone to carry the tank and 30 dollars every three days for refilling the tank,” said Mrs. Mandere.

Apart from oxygen refilling, Taropafadzwa’s parents have to hire someone for $20 to transport the tank.

Enigray Mandere, the grandfather, recounts problems he has endured in his efforts to save his grandson’s life.

Taropafadzwa's grandparents

Taropafadzwa's grandparents

​“The shock of my life came when my daughter-in-law told me that the gas had finished. I had no money, I had nowhere to get the transport to get the gas from the heavy industry. It’s not a commodity which is found everywhere; it’s found at a particular place,” he said.

In addition to the oxygen expenses, the family spends $20 every three days on medications for Taropafadzwa.

If you wish to help Taropafadzwa, please send us a message at studio7@voanews.com. We are also on Facebook and Whatsapp number 00-1 202 465 0318Efforts to get a comment from Health Minister David Parirenyatwa were futile. Many are asking why the hospital discharged Taropafadzwa when the family has no capacity to provide quality care at home.

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