A 55-year-old Krugersdorp woman is thrilled to be able to spend the festive season and celebrate her birthday on Christmas Day with her family after having recovered from three heart attacks and a stroke that led her doctors to fear for her life.
Belinda De Beer was discharged home on 12 November 2017 home from Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital after undergoing successful open-heart surgery and spending two and a half months in hospital. Her treating physician, Dr Alexia Gugulethu Magubane, describes her recovery as “something of a miracle”.
Photo: Belinda De Beer (right) of Krugersdorp with her treating physician Dr Alexia Gugulethu Magubane at Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital
De Beer was admitted to Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital’s emergency department after having suffered two heart attacks on 16 September this year.
Her daughter, Ansja, says that when she arrived home on that fateful day, her mother had complained that she felt tired and that she felt that her bronchitis and flu symptoms were flaring up again before suddenly collapsing. Alarmed, Ansja called the emergency medical services.
Paramedics rushed De Beer to a hospital on 16 September 2017. However, no cardiologist was available to assist there, so she was transferred to Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital’s emergency department on 19 September. There she was rushed into the hospital’s catheterisation laboratory for an emergency angiogram investigation, but while there she suffered a third heart attack as well as a stroke.
According to Dr Magubane, there was a complete lack of electrical brain activity for a few days following the patient’s stroke. “We were all deeply concerned about Mrs De Beer,” admits Dr Magubane. “We treated her in the intensive care unit of the hospital for the stroke and heart condition, and were relieved when she finally came out of the coma.”
De Beer spent a number of weeks recovering and undergoing rehabilitation and, once strong enough, could finally be operated on by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Ellias Zigiriadis. Dr Zigiriadis, who is fondly known as “Dr Zigi” by many of his patients and hospital staff, was able to successfully perform an intricate triple heart bypass operation.
“It was a close call and we are all thrilled that Mrs De Beer has finally been able to go home to spend the festive season and her birthday with her family. I ascribe her recovery in large part due to her unbelievable fighting spirit, and the loving support of her family throughout this traumatic time,” relates Dr Magubane.
Ansja says that it was in large part thanks to Dr Magubane and Dr Zigiriadis that her mother survived her ordeal. “They were unbelievable, explaining everything clearly and honestly to us from the outset and every step of the way.
“Dr Magubane was much more than a doctor; during this difficult time she became a friend of my mother and our family. I don’t think I have come across such caring doctors before, and my family and I will be forever grateful to them.”
Ansja says that she lost her father on 22 March 2017, which she believes “affected her mother deeply” and gravely impacted her health.
“My father was disabled for seven years and my mom took care of him. She has a very big heart; both of my parents are fighters! We are extremely grateful and blessed to be able to have my mom with us this festive season and to celebrate her birthday on Christmas day!”
In addition to Dr Magubane and Dr Zigiriadis, she also paid tribute to some of the nurses and staff at Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital, who she says went above and beyond the call of duty to assist her mother and family.
“Sister Tendani Matodzi in the surgical ICU does her work with passion and love and not just because she has to. She once worked a whole night shift and then stayed over time with my mother until she had to go to theatre the following morning. She also always checked that my family and I were coping,” adds Ansja.
“We would also like to thank Sr Martie Buitendag from cardiothoracic intensive care unit, Sr Chuck Mdletye from cardiothoracic intensive care unit and Ada-May Thompson, who is one of the administrative staff members but who nevertheless often went out of her way to help us through what was a very difficult time. The hospital general manager Eugene Ferreira and patient liaison officer Liesl-Marie Simons were also immensely helpful throughout.”
Dr Magubane advises that heart attacks are usually caused by coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition where the coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood) become blocked with deposits of cholesterol, known as plaques. During a heart attack one of these plaques bursts, causing a blood clot to develop which then blocks the supply of blood running through the coronary artery, thereby triggering a heart attack.
The first hour after the onset of a heart attack is called the ‘golden hour’, which is a critical time as the heart muscle starts to die within 80 to 90 minutes after it stops getting blood. It takes about six hours for the affected areas of the heart to have irreversible damage.
“Many people tend to ignore the symptoms of a heart attack until it is too late because of fear of embarrassment or a mistaken belief that the problem is related to heartburn. However, if the symptoms are correctly identified and appropriate medical care is given quickly within this period, near-complete recovery may be expected.
“Recognise the symptoms of a heart attack, call for help immediately and get to the most appropriate hospital promptly,” advises Dr Magubane.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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