Meet Unakho Ntshintshi, one of Buffalo City's most inspirational young community and health activists.
Unakho was born in November 2004 with complex cyanotic heart defects. Her pulmonary artery and aorta were located on the wrong side of her heart, and she suffered from a condition called coarctation of the aorta, which happens when the main blood vessel supplying blood to the body is too narrow.
She underwent the first of numerous surgeries at only six weeks old, and due to the severity of her condition, was only expected to survive for two to three years.
Today, Unakho is a bubbly, fun 15 years old - surpassing her doctors' best-case scenarios by more than 12 years.
And while her own health issues have not completely disappeared, Unakho is already living her best life by working to raise awareness of the condition that almost cost her her life and reaching out to other children with complex congenital heart defects (CCHD).
In addition to raising awareness about her condition, Ntshintshi also recently donated a wheelchair to Mdantsane resident Liyolisa Makhohliso,who has both CCHD, as well as multiple organ hydatid cysts.
“During our cardiac clinic at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in December last year, one of our ‘CHD warriors’ asked my mom if she can get her a new wheelchair," Unakho told the GO! & Express newspaper.
“My mom called me and told me the news. I looked at her beautiful smile and eyes that are full of hope, so as a big sister I felt the need to help although I didn’t know how,” Ntshintshi says.
Along with her mother, Noxolo Ntshintshi, a nurse at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital’s neo-natal ICU ward, Ntshintshi hosts awareness talks at Cecilia Makiwane and Frere Hospital, where they hand out toothbrushes and toothpaste to children with CHD.
Source: TEAMLEE28 Foundation, GO! & Express