KUALA LUMPUR - Looking at the antics of her healthy and active 19-month-old son, Siti Zuati Jafri finds it hard to believe that he was once a blue baby.
She remembered the doctor holding Ahmad Dhani Aryan Muhammad Syukri and telling her that he would not survive.
"I refused to give up and prayed hard for his health."
Dhani suffered from pulmonary atresia (PA) with intact ventricular septum where the blood vessel to his lung was completely disconnected from the right-sided heart chamber.
The chamber was also small and underdeveloped.
PA is a complicated congenital defect that occurs due to abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first eight weeks of pregnancy.
Siti Zuati said to save his life, Dhani had to undergo his first surgery when he was four days old.
"We managed to raise RM25,000 (S$10,000) needed for the operation. A BT shunt was inserted to temporarily direct blood flow to the lungs prior to the surgery.
"Six months later, he underwent another operation called atrial septectomy as there were complications with the BT (Blalock-Taussig) shunt.
"This operation cost RM30,000 and we were really desperate as we were still trying to pay off our debts."
Fortunately, consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist Dr Lim Miin Kang of Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur told them about the NSTP general fund.
In May, Dr Lim recommended that Dhani undergo a cardiac catheterization -- to study in detail the anatomy and structure of his heart.
This time the operation would cost RM47,000, and once again the NSTP general fund picked up the tab.
Dhani is now a bouncy baby and can walk on his own unlike before the operations.
Siti Zuati, who works as an administrative assistant, earns RM2,000 a month while her husband, Muhammad Syukri, a technician, earns RM2,179.
"Everyone should support the New Straits Times as they help to pay the bills for such life-saving heart surgeries.
"Although our combined salaries exceeded the RM2,500 limit to qualify for the financial scheme, we were still offered help as our baby needed to undergo those life-saving operations.
"We just cannot express our gratitude for the support and hope of all NST readers."
Dhani also received RM20,000 from the Shangri-La Hotel under its Caring People Project, which provides health support for the underprivileged.
Those who wish to help children with such medical conditions can send your cheques, made payable to The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd, to: The Cashier, Finance Department / Charity Unit, The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd, Balai Berita, No. 31, Jalan Riong, 59100, Kuala Lumpur.