independent

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Family appeals for help for little boy's operation

TWO-YEAR-OLD IGNACY NEEDS OPEN HEART SURGERY

CONOR CULLEN

A KILMORE family are appealing to the public for help to fund open heart surgery for their two-yearold son.

Little Ignacy Zygadlo (2) will fly to Germany with his parents Maciek and Asia within the next two months for heart surgery, but only if they can raise the €16,500 cost of the operation.

The Zygadlo family hails from Krakow in Poland, but have been living in Wexford for six years now. They have made the Kilmore area their home and Ignacy's older brother Andrzej (11) is a pupil in the local national school.

Ignacy has a heart defect called aortic valve stenosis, which is an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve, which ensures blood is pumped from the heart's left ventricle throughout the body. His mother, Asia, said it was diagnosed when he was just four months old.

' The shock we suffered was enormous. Helplessness was mixed with the desire to help him as soon as possible,' said Asia, who along with Macik carried out extensive research into the condition and the best options available for Ignacy.

' The valve repair operation has to be carried out before irreversible changes in the heart and lungs take place,' she said.

Down the line, Ignacy's aorta will need to replaced, but Asia explained that they are trying to delay this for as long as possible with the first operation: ' The heart surgeon will cut the fused leaflets of the valve extending the opening in the valve or in the narrow part of the valve to widen the blood flow passage,' she said. ' This technique preserves native valve function and avoids or at least deters aortic valve replacement.'

' The second surgery Ignacy will undergo in the future. When the valve reconstruction is impossible, or if it is already very damaged, the native valve is removed and in its place a specially prepared valve is implanted (an allograft or artificial valve).

'We have spoken to the best surgeons and they said open heart surgery is the best way. Every day we struggle with the thoughts about the operation that awaits him,' said Asia.

She said that the doctor who will be performing the operation is Munich-based Edward Malec, who specialises in paediatric heart surgery. He feels the operation needs to take place within the next two months.

'We were hoping he would last until he was four or eight years old before he needed this surgery, but he needs it now,' said Asia. 'Hopefully he will then be able to get by with his own valve until he's a teenager.'

The surgery and associated treatment will cost €16,500 and Maciek, a graphic designer, is currently unemployed so the family cannot raise all the money themselves.

However, they have so far raised €8,000 and so are already almost half way there. Asia said this is down to 'people's generosity and goodwill'.

She said that she and Maciek feel there is 'probably nothing worse than asking strangers for money', but that their love for their son and the desire to ensure he has the best possible care means they have put pride to one side.

Despite getting tired sometimes, being a little skinny and his legs being a tad weak, Asia said Ignacy is in great form and 'a little charmer' and 'constantly smiling'.

She said everyone smiles at him and is happy around him and not just because of his 'curly little head and disarming smile, but his exceptionally joyful character'.

An account has been set up for Ignacy and is administered by the Cor Infantis Foundation for children with heart defects). ' The Foundation will transfer all the funds for Ignacy's treatment – it does not charge any commission,' said Asia. For details on how to donate or for further information visit www.ignacy.sos.pl/index_en.html.

A fundraising gig for Ignacy will take place in the Halfway House in Ballycogley on Friday, February 4, at starting at 9 p.m.

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