Thursday, November 02, 2006


Her one wish is for a heart
02 Nov 2006 ( New Strait Times)

KUALA LUMPUR: Tee Hui Yi, 13, managed a small smile despite having in her mouth a tube attached to a ventilator. Sitting on a wheelchair with a teddy bear by her right side, Tee answered reporters’ questions at the intensive care unit of the National Heart Institute (IJN) yesterday.She did so writing with a marker pen on a slate.She wrote her name in Chinese. She wrote "Kentucky Fried Chicken" when asked for her favourite food. She wrote Supaya dapat jantung cepat (to get a new heart fast) to a question on what her wishes are. A round heavy device could be seen sneaking out of her pale yellow pyjamas top connecting to a huge power unit. This device implanted outside her abdomen and connected to the left side of her heart will buy the teenager time until she receives a new heart. Known as Thoratec Paracorporeal Ventricular Assist Device (PVAD), the device is designed to improve cardiac output.It was Tee’s 33rd day at the ICU since being implanted on Sept 29 with the 419-gramme PVAD also known commonly as a mechanical heart assist device. Tee, who is from Batu Pahat, is the country’s second mechanical heart assist recipient after Mohamed Fikri Nor Azmi, 16, received it last July. Since being on the ventilator after the surgery, Tee has been itching to talk, said the doctors and nurses who formed the team that performed the five-hour surgery. "She has been asking us to take out the tube," said Dr Mohamed Ezani Md Taib, IJN’s consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the mechanical heart programme.Just a few days ago, she asked Dr Mohamed Ezani to buy her Kentucky Fried Chicken."She is actually quite a chatterbox," said her mother Dina Bato Sambu who has not heard her youngest child’s voice since the surgery.Her outgoing personality belies her weak heart condition.In the past three weeks she had a total of eight cardiac arrests with the last one occurring during Hari Raya. Her mechanical heart device endured these episodes and Tee was successfully resuscitated. Tee was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure since she was two years old after suffering from a viral infection.Since then, she became a regular patient at Batu Pahat Hospital and IJN.Her condition deteriorated and she was on the heart transplant list in May this year.She has not been to school for two years.On Sept 13, she was re-admitted to IJN. While undergoing treatment, she developed a potential fatal heart rhythm. After this, IJN decided to implant Tee with the device.She developed blood function disorder after the surgery due to her blood thinning drugs and needed to be rested on the ventilator. Tee was bound to face more complications with the device implanted outside her heart, said Dr Mohamed Ezani."Since it is outside, Tee is more prone to infection. Bathing will also be difficult for her," he said.The device was implanted outside instead of inside as Tee’s small framed body was too small to be fitted with it.It is not known exactly when she will be moved out of the ICU ward. Doctors are monitoring her condition for the best time to remove the ventilator."It is good to remove the ventilator because she needs to learn to breathe on her own," he said.Tee’s rehabilitation process will probably start in a month, doctors estimate.This was unlikely to happen for quite awhile as Tee was still frail at the moment, IJN said.As her home is in Batu Pahat, her family has to sort out the problem of providing her easy access to post-hospital medical treatment in the event she is allowed ‘home leave’."We hope she gets a heart soon so that they do not have to deal with these issues," said Dr Mohamed Ezani.

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