By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
NORMAL HEARTBEATS make a lub-dub sound. At birth, 15 month-old Keziah Bethell’s heart made a whooshing sound. The abnormal beat, described as a heart murmur by nurses, signalled a problem.
Keziah who was born prematurely. She spent the first few months of her life hospitalised.
After birth, Keziah was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a disorder where the blood vessel that allows blood to flow around a baby’s lungs, does not close. When a baby is born, the vessel is no longer needed because the lungs fill with air, and the vessel closes. That did not happen in Keziah’s case.
Jermaine and Arlene Bethell, Keziah’s parents, did not expect their daughter to come early nor did they expect she would have health defects when she was born.
“At 24 weeks of pregnancy, I was at work and I started to experience some abdominal cramps on and off. To me it was nothing to worry about because I thought it would eventually go away. As the evening came to an end the cramping began to get worst so I decided that I needed to go to the clinic just to be on the safe side,” Mrs Bethel told Tribune Health.
“While my husband and I waited to see the doctor at the clinic the cramps got worst and they were happening quite frequently, about every 10-15 minutes. I was then given medication to help with the tract infection, which we went and purchased right away. As the night progressed the medication was not helping with the cramping. The cramping got much worst and was coming much quicker. I said to my husband, I think we should go to the labour ward because something isn’t right’,” she said.
Mrs Bethell was examined and then admitted because she was having early labour contractions.
“They kept giving me medication and pain killers to stop the contractions but the contractions only slowed down but never stopped. This went on until it was at a point where the baby was coming no matter what. I was rushed to the labour ward on September 5 after 3pm and with one push I gave birth,” she said.
A nurse attending to the 1lb 3oz new born heard an unusual sound in the baby’s heartbeat. The doctor examined Keziah and diagnosed her with PDA.
Doctors determined the new born had to undergo surgery if she would live and have a quality of life. Keziah underwent litigation surgery on October 18, 2011.
“The thought of losing her crossed our minds daily because she was born so early and she was so small. We were also told that it was a 50/50 chance of her making it. It was nerve reckoning whenever we heard the phone ring. The doctors assured us that the surgery would be fine, from the very beginning.
Just as doctors said, the surgery was successful and Keziah is enjoying a quality of life.
“She is doing excellent, all thanks to God. She is our miracle baby. She is very active.
“The good that came of this experience is that our faith, trust and reliance on God has increase tremendously. It was truly living the scriptures. Our immediate family and our family in Christ were in constant prayer and fasting, because we understood that it was only through God, who gave the doctors and nurses such wealth of knowledge to care for her the way they did. That is what brought Keziah through every trial,” Mrs Bethell said.
Keziah is just one of the many Bahamian children who are diagnosed early in life with a heart disorder. Heart disease is the number one killer of people in the Bahamas and the world. Research from the Department of the Statistics shows that more than 24 percent of all deaths in the Bahamas are directly related to heart disease.
The Heart Foundation is one of several organisations conducting activities during Heart Month in February to help educate people on matters of the heart and raise funds for children suffering from similar health conditions like Keziah.
“Her condition would have been worst or may have caused her death. I went to the Foundation not knowing what to expect. To see how fast assistance was there blew us away. We are truly grateful and thankful to God for providing such a foundation for families who do not have thousands of dollars to come up with on the spot. None of us know what life has in store for us or when we will need assistance. So please give to save a life that could one day be your own,” Ms Bethell said.