Sajeewa and his wife will never forget the year of 2005. They were awaiting the birth of their first child. Friends and family were waiting by the phone while the parents-to-be drove off to the hospital with an anxious tickle in their bellies. The crib was prepared; toys, blankets, nappies and feeding bottles neatly organised; ceremonies and celebrations planned – all was ready to welcome their first bundle of joy. Little did they know that their immense joy would came hand-in-hand with heartache.
Their son Sakila was born at the Negombo Hospital. His first cries thrilled the parents, but not the doctors who observed Sakila’s face as it changed colours towards the deep shades of blue. The baby’s health was worrisome and after just a few examinations, it was determined that Sakila was born with congenital heart disease (CHD). And so, instead of welcoming their baby to their carefully prepared home, Sanjeewa and his wife began their long tour of Sri Lanka’s hospitals.
In 2005, no public institution in Sri Lanka had a centre or staff specialised in the treatment of infants with CHD. Sakila was admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo, but was deemed too tiny to be treated by the hospital’s staff specialised in adult cardiac care. He was then referred to the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital which as well was unable to perform the complex surgery on such a fragile patient. Soon, it became apparent to Sanjeewa and his wife that public hospitals simply did not have the resources to aid their child.
Even though a family of humble means, they refused to let finances step in the way of Sakila’s life. They raised loans and checked Sakila into a private healthcare institution in Colombo. There, their baby underwent a heart surgery and spent his first birthday in a hospital bed. In 2010, he was rushed back for another procedure due to unexpected post-surgical complications.
A few weeks had passed and Sakila was still unwell. He had a swinging fever and needed a prolonged hospitalisation which his parents could no longer afford.
Consequently, he was transferred to Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) for further care. His condition soon deteriorated and on a Saturday morning Sakila suffered a cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the operating theatre for emergency surgery. Though his chances of survival, let alone recovery, seemed bleak, it was this emergency surgery that finally put an end to Sakila and his family's plight. After a few hours, he was transferred back to intensive care, now ready to begin his life as a healthy child.
“We call the day he was taken out of that operating theatre his ‘second birth’,” said Sanjeewa who to date passionately supports LRH in any way he can. No matter how busy, he is always happy to take time to share his story and encourage others to pay attention and give their support to the institution that saved his child’s life.
Since his last surgery, Sakila’s health has improved tremendously. Today he is 12 years old and, besides daily medication, nothing remains to remind him of the blue-tainted years of his infancy.
His ‘second birth’ was the one any parent hopes for: filled with nothing but tears of joy.
LRH’s free services and exceptional medical staff make this hospital the beacon of hope for many - if not most – families in Sri Lanka with children suffering from various critical illnesses. If we are to provide all our children equal opportunities at a healthier and happier life, it is crucial that we invest our efforts into the maintenance and expansion of this institution.
Donate to Little Hearts today and help us build a Cardiac and Critical Care Complex of LRH so thousands of other little hearts can have a happy BEGINNING like Sakila's.