13 November 2011
Tinika Davies of Delft has a hereditary deformity of the chest which puts a lot of pressure on her lungs and heart. Dr Marco Zampoli, a paediatric pulmonologist at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, said the condition, Pectus excavatum, caused Tinika to have difficulty with breathing.
Pectus excavatum means a "sunken chest bone" and is caused by the ribs and the sternum that grow abnormally.
Her mother, Wilma Davies said the pressure in Tinika's chest caused her to tire easily.
"She can only really play or walk for fifteen minutes at a time and then she has to take a long break to rest," Mrs Davies said, adding that if Tinika contracted a cold or flu she struggled to breathe and complained of pain in her chest.
On 11 November 2011, Tinika underwent the Nuss procedure to correct this deformity. This procedure is designed to create more space in her chest and alleviate the pressure on her heart and lungs. This was the first time that the procedure, which was developed by Dr Donald Nuss, was performed at the hospital.
During the procedure a nickel bar, called a Pectus Bar is inserted into Tinika's chest behind the chest bone to push her chest out.
Specialist cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Ivan Schewitz, was flown from Johannesburg to perform the procedure. His travelling expenses and accommodation was paid for by the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Facility Board, which manages donor funding on behalf of the hospital. Dr Schewitz performed the surgery pro bono and the Pectus Bar, which usually costs between R7 000 and R15 000, was donated by Selective Surgical.
Dr Schewitz is the most experienced surgeon in South Africa in the Nuss procedure and has performed about 130 of the operations.
The surgery lasted an hour and Tinika spent one day recovering in the Intensive Care Unit after the surgery. She is doing very well and was discharged from Ward E2 a week later.