Hendré is a very special, bubbly five-year-old with bright blue eyes and a radiant, infectious smile. Little Hendré, who is from Kuils River in the Western Cape, has been in and out of hospitals since the day he was born and has suffered more physical trauma than most adults have to endure in a lifetime.
When Hendré was still in his mom’s tummy, doctors discovered that he had posterior urethral valves, which meant that he had a blockage in the tube leading away from his bladder. This diagnosis was made early in the pregnancy and was a shocking realisation for first-time parents, Ilka and Stefan, as they knew the life that they had envisioned for their first-born would not be as easy and carefree as they had hoped.
Little Hendré was born at almost 37 weeks, but as a result of his condition, he suffered severe bladder and kidney damage before birth and experienced his very first bladder operation at the tender age of 10 days old. Hendré proved to be a fighter against all odds and although he was constantly in and out of ICU, he managed to survive every surgery and treatment.
Hendré’s condition continued to worsen over the next couple of years and he endured countless major surgeries including the removal of his one kidney, but sadly little Hendré was not getting better. “He slept most of the time, didn’t eat and his body hurt a lot,” Ilka says. The parents only regained hope for their young son when he was referred to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. “He was man down and the doctors couldn’t do more and that was when we came to Red Cross Children’s Hospital in September 2015.”
At this stage the doctors at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital told Ilka and Stefan that Hendré would require a kidney transplant as soon as possible in order to save his life. Both mom and dad immediately did all the tests that were needed to see if one of them was a donor match. After numerous tests it was found that Ilka was a perfect match and they were given the go-head for the transplant.
Hendré was admitted to the Hospital a few days before the transplant surgery where he received anti-rejection treatment to ensure that his body did not reject his new kidney. On Wednesday morning, 7 September, mom and son both underwent surgery and to everyone’s delight, both surgeries went well and the transplant was successful.
Following the surgery, Hendré was admitted to the recently upgraded ICU at the Hospital where he became the first child ever to stay in the isolation cubicles. For Stefan, this was the best place for his son to be as his immune system was very weak and he needed to be separate from other patients in order for his little body to heal. Hendré’s grandmother compared the new ICU at the Hospital to a “5-star hotel” and Stefan says that the service was wonderful, with top-class expertise.
Little Hendré recovered exceptionally well in ICU and was moved to the renal ward within two days and sent home after a total of only 12 days.
After years of struggling with Hendré’s health condition and receiving bad news, Ilka and Stefan have both regained hope for their son and believe that they have become a part of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital family. “We were very negative at first, because everything always goes wrong and we have always come to crossroads, but here it went so smoothly and he is just getting better every day.”
Hendré’s health has improved tremendously and although he is currently being home-schooled and doing very well, Ilka and Stefan are looking forward to him attending school in 2018 as this will give their special little fighter a real chance at a childhood.