Thursday, February 13, 2014

Healthy Heart, happy heart: Maliyah Beneby’s story

February is Heart Month and that means it’s a good time to talk about heart disease i.e. cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). CVDs are the number one cause of deaths globally; more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause. Heart disease does not discriminate based on age, gender, income, social status or other factors. As such, February is also an excellent time to learn how to prevent heart disease and how you can help others, especially children in The Bahamas with heart care.

Heart disease has a great impact on families, especially those with little children. The presence of a serious heart defect often results in an enormous emotional and financial strain on families at a very vulnerable time. Patient/family education is an important part of successful coping, along with financial support.

When Maliyah Beneby was born in 2003, her mother did not know she had a heart problem. She did however know that her baby happened to have swallowed fluid from the amniotic sack. A few weeks later, Maliyah was taken to the local clinic for treatment of a cough. While the doctor examined her chest, the doctor detected a heart murmur. As a result, Maliyah was given temporary care and quickly referred to the pediatric clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital. While there, her mother met Dr. Jerome Lightbourne, the pediatric cardiologist. He informed Mrs. Beneby that her baby had five (5) holes in her heart, and the vein was too small. Maliyah had ventricular septical defect (VSD), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), pulmonary hypertension and another defect. She needed immediate care or she would die. Additionally, she would have to have heart surgery abroad. Mrs. Beneby admits, she did not have the funds for the procedure, nor was Maliyah insured. So, she needed help saving her baby’s life. Dr. Lightbourne referred Mrs. Beneby to the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation to obtain help saving Maliyah’s life.

Thanks to the generosity of the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation, Maliyah had heart surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital, performed by Dr. Rosekrantz (cardiologist) and Dr. Miller (anesthesiologist). Mrs. Beneby and family members were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald home, while accompanying Maliyah. Mrs. Beneby was very thankful for the close accommodations and family support. She indicated that the ease in access to her child was important to her, especially after Maliyah’s heart swelled post-surgery, resulting in her being admitted to intensive care. Maliyah stayed in hospital for eleven days and was released to return home to The Bahamas for follow-up care.

When Maliyah first returned home she had bi-annual cardiologist visit and other visits with medical practitioners. Today, she does not have to see the cardiologist. Like everyone else, an annual doctor’s visit is sufficient. Additionally, Maliyah is an active student who enjoys dancing.

In the words of Mrs. Lenor Beneby, Maliyah’s mother, “ I want to encourage people to support The Heart Foundation. You never know when it will be your day. The Heart Foundation has been a blessing to Maliyah. Because of them, she is alive today. I encourage you to help”.

The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps to repair the hearts of persons in The Bahamas, primarily children. The Foundation relies heavily upon the generosity of others to help repair hearts. Over 97% of the funds raised by The Heart Foundation go directly towards heart care. The main fund raiser that aids The Heart Foundation is The Annual Heart Ball.

Under the theme “Celebrating the Golden Anniversary of a vision….Championing the Cause of Children”, the Heart Ball Committee will host the 50th Annual Heart Ball, Saturday, February 15, at Melia Nassau Beach. This event promises to be an evening of fine foods, elegance, laughter, dancing, prizes, and surprises, like never before. There will be live performances by The S-G Band (Soulful Groovers), The Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band and The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band. There will also be a special performance by Grammy Award Winner, Rik Carey of Bahamamen. DJ- Gary Super Johnson will provide music for interludes and to dance the night away. The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart award will be presented.

There are lots of prizes up for grabs. Guests can win fabulous prizes table prizes, raffle prizes and auction items. The grand raffle prize is a roundtrip ticket for two to London on Virgin Atlantic.

Tickets for regular seating at The Ball are $250 per person. Platinum seating is also available.

The public is further encouraged to make donations, support sponsored events, purchase “Go Red” pins that were generously donated by Bahamas Health and join The Bahamas Heart Association.

Heart care is not cheap regardless of age. As such, The Heart Foundation, along with The
Bahamas Heart Association wants to encourage members of the public to participate in the
activities of Heart Month, especially the free ones. Prevention is better than the cure and cheaper
than the cost of care.

February 13th - Salus Art Project – Pulse at the Ladder Gallery, NPCC @ 7pm
February 14th - Heart Month Launch at Cable Bahamas. Free
February 15th – The 50th Annual Heart Ball
February 20th – Doctor’s Hospital Lecture at 6 pm, with blood pressure
checks from 5 pm. Free.
February 21st - Go Red Day- Entire Bahamas to dress in red and purchase a pin.
February 27th – The Annual Health Fair at Town Centre Mall from 10 am - 4 pm. Free.
March 1st – The Annual Fun / Run Walk

Schools are encouraged to have their students wear red for $1 on February 21st in support of “Go Red” day. The funds raised by this exercise are asked to be donated to The Heart Foundation to help repair a child’s heart.

For information on ticket purchases or donations please contact the Heart Foundation at telephone number 327-0806 or e-mail