Johor boy gets life-changing heart surgery

Ahmad Syareef has a new lease on life and dreams of becoming a doctor.

BORN with a hole in his heart, Ahmad Syareef Abdullah, eight, was constantly fatigued and suffered occasional chest pains.

He had been living with a Subaortic Ventricular Septal Defect and needed to go to the hospital twice a year.

His medical examination earlier this year revealed a worrisome development.

The hole in his heart had doubled in size within six months and required surgery.

“There was a high chance of the hole becoming bigger and leaving it untreated would have increased the risk of severe complications.

“The cost would also have been much higher and the outcome wouldn’t have been ideal (if he had the surgery later in life),” said National Heart Institute (IJN) consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Hew Chee Chin.

Ahmad Syareef’s mother, Siti Nor Azlia, knew her family would not be able to afford the RM48,000 surgery he needed.

The boy’s father, the family’s sole breadwinner, earned only RM1,800 as a lorry driver.

She knew they could barely afford to travel to Kuala Lumpur from Johor for the surgery.

“The doctor at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah in Johor Baru warned me that without surgery and proper treatment, the hole in my son’s heart would worsen over time,” said Siti.

Thanks to Star Foundation’s Medical Fund Programme, Ahmad Syareef received the life-changing treatment he needed on May 1.

“The surgery took about three hours. The patient had a rather large hole, but it was partially covered by tissue from the aortic wall.

“The large hole was causing the right side of the heart to work harder, and because of this increased workload, the right ventricle muscle had thickened.

“I performed a resection, removing some muscle tissue from the right ventricle.

“Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the surgery was uneventful. We got him in time,” said Dr Hew.

After his successful surgery, Ahmad Syareef was seen playing around the ward, showing no signs of post-surgery discomfort.

His swift recovery led to his discharge in four days after the operation.

“Without the financial assistance from Star Foundation, we would have abandoned all hope for Ahmad Syareef to have the surgery.

“We are truly grateful,” added Siti.

The boy is scheduled for six medical check-ups to monitor his recovery.

“Ahmad Syareef once told me he aspires to be a doctor. This surgery is more than just fixing a hole in his heart, it’s a chance to make his dream a reality.

“I have nothing but hope for his bright future,” Siti said, expressing gratitude to all Malaysians who had generously donated to the Medical Fund Programme as it enabled her son to have surgery before his condition worsened.

The Medical Fund Programme, established in 2015 by Star Foundation, focuses on helping underprivileged individuals suffering from chronic illnesses by sponsoring one-off medical treatment and care.

Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group and supports impactful initiatives to help a diverse group of beneficiaries.

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