As Mandela Month kicks off, the Boikanyo Foundation has started an initiative to raise funds for children with congenital heart disease.

The Foundation has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg, to assist critical cases in need of surgery.

Congenital heart disease is a condition undetected in newborns.

The life-saving surgery is costly and many succumb to the condition.

Cardio-thoracic Surgeon, Dr Krubin Naidoo says 11 000 children in South Africa alone are born with the heart condition.

“11 000 kids are born in SA alone with congenital heart disease. A quarter will get cardiology. Most will die. It is the commonest heart disease. A lot of these congenital present as newborns are misdiagnosed and not referred onto a more dedicated centre. Those children will die unless they receive treatment in the first few weeks of life.”

Surgery costs R50 000 and Dr Naidoo says that the demand is high.

“One of four patients are getting to our attention and the rest are not. Even if they are picked up, they go on to a waiting list and the list goes onto 100. What happens in that time, patients that are treatable become untreatable. Some cases that are simple can become complex. They become worse.”

Alex Standiland from the Boikanyo Foundation says it is important for them to save lives.

“A congenital heart defect is a curable disease. However, kids on government waiting lists are dying because they are not getting that surgery timeously. So, it was important for us to save lives. We needed to do something big.”

The team will leave South Africa for Romania on July 14th on a VW Beetle and will trek through 12 countries before arriving at its destination in Romania.