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Zimbabwean man comes back from the brink after open heart surgery in India

by Staff reporter
06 Oct 2023 at 06:37hrs | Views
WHEN Mr Wilberforce Matashu (46) of Nkulumane suburb in Bulawayo arrived in India early this year for open heart surgery, which saw him implanted with artificial heart valves to assist the aorta, he had 12 days to live, according to doctors.

Mr Matashu, a father of three, was diagnosed with an aortic valve disease whose medical term is fusiform aneurysm of the ascending aorta, and local doctors recommended that he undergo surgery either in India or China.

A fusiform aneurysm is an abnormal dilation of the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Symptoms of a fusiform aneurysm vary.

Some show symptoms associated with low blood pressure and these include dizziness, fainting, and pale skin.

A damaged or diseased aortic valve can affect blood flow to the rest of the heart and body.

Mr Matashu said it came as a shock to him when he got diagnosed with the disease as they had no history of the disease in the family.

"The symptoms started as a flu-like kind of disease. I consulted doctors and they advised me to go for an X-ray examination. Thereafter, doctors said my heart was floating in water and prescribed some tablets which would help drain the water," he said.

"The doctor referred me to a clinic where l was given another set of tablets. I took the drugs and started vomiting and also struggled to breathe."

Mr Matashu was rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals where he was put on oxygen. He was flat on his back, fighting for his life.

 "When I arrived at the hospital my body was now swollen and not responsive. Although my family and friends were there for me, I could not stop worrying about my three children and wife," he said.

"The thought of lying on a hospital bed not knowing what was wrong with me worsened the situation. I stayed at the hospital for a month as doctors frantically made efforts to establish the ailment."

When doctors finally discovered the cause of the illness and notified him, he was devastated.

"They  told me that my valves were not functioning properly which resulted in my aorta not closing and that caused breathing problems. I was told that l could not get any help in Zimbabwe and options were between China or India," said Mr Matashu.

He had no funds to travel out of the country and his health continued to deteriorate. He began to show signs of worsening neurological deterioration.

Mr Matashu's family with the help of well-wishers mobilised funds to try and save him. It was a race against time.

"We were told we had to raise US$24 000 and I am grateful to my friends and family who ran around and raised the required money within a month. Some of the money also came through well-wishers who l believe reached out after they read about my plight in the newspapers," he said.

In April, Chronicle ran a story where Mr Matashu was appealing for US$24 000 to replace the defective valve.

He said he was accompanied by his wife and sibling to India where surgeons told him that he had only 12 days to live had the valve not been replaced.

"They operated on me on May 2 and l stayed in an Indian hospital for about a month while recovering. Life is no longer the same since that operation," said Mr Matashu.

"Doctors warned I should not do heavy-duty work, run or jog as that would strain my artificial valves."

Mr Mutashu said Government through the Department of Social  Welfare refunded him all the money he used for the operation including other medical bills incurred during his stay in the hospital.

Mr Mutashu is set to return to India next year for a review.

The country joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Heart Day on 29 September, which was held under the theme "Use Heart, Know Heart."

It is observed and celebrated annually with the aim of increasing awareness of cardiovascular diseases and how to control them to negate their global impact.

The international day was established by the World Heart Federation in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.

For Mr Matashu, the day is a reminder of how his life was saved and the need to continue taking care of his heart.

Source - The Chronicle