Angelica Fernandes, 4, has a rare heart condition called Paediatric Restrictive Cardiomyopathy for which she has been undergoing treatment since she was a year old. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: While other kids her age are running around and reciting nursery rhymes, four-year-old Angelica Fernandes has had to mature beyond her age as she endures the ordeal that she must go through following a rare heart condition that was triggered after she came down with measles at the age of one. She has been since then been under strong medication and according to her parents, doctors have given her a year to live unless she gets a heart transplant.

Angelica’s father Dennis Fernandes, 34, a Pakistani expatriate working as an administrative officer in Dubai, is desperate for help. “My daughter, our only child, suffers from a rare and critical cardiac condition called Restrictive Cardiomyopathy. We would have never guessed it as she looked just fine as a baby. But after her first year, we started noticing that she had stomach distention and water retention in her body. Further investigations revelaed that she suffered from this condition. Her vital organs are under strain, say doctors. She has had to undergo two surgeries in the last three years and has been in much pain. Currenntly on heart medication, her doctors say she is in need of an urgent heart transplant,” he told Gulf News.

A detailed report of investigations conducted by the Al Jalila Chiildren’s Speciality Hospital dated August 1, 2021 recommends that Angelica be admitted to a centre for heart failure management and heart transplant. The report diagnoses her case as restrictive cardiomyopathy .

According to Fernandes, a hospital in New Delhi, India, is willing to do the transplant, the cost of which could be around Dh500,000. “Apollo Hosptital has sent us a letter of invitation that would help us apply for a visa to consult the doctors as there is an emergency situation. However, they have not given us an exact estimate. This will be done only after the consutlation by their doctors,” added Fernandes.

“If the essential treatment is not facilitated, Angelica barely has any chance of survival,” said the heartbroken parent.

The Fernandes family has been using their modest income for the series of surgeries and medications for their daughter. “My wife Sherry who works in the logistics industry will soon need give up her job to look after Angelica and that is going to put our family under added economic strain, We are both mentally and financially drained out and are in dire need of some kindness and help from the community.”

The Fernandes’ have been in touch with the St Mary’s Catholic Church and the parish as well as volunteers have been supporting the family to the extent they can.

Those who wish to reach out to the family can write to for their contact details.

What is Restrictive Cardiomyopathy?

Paediatric Restrictive Cardiomyopathy is a rare condition in which the chambers of the heart become stiff over time making it difficult for the heart muscles to relax completely. This eventually makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood and results in irregular heart rhythms or arrythmia. It causes, fatigue, breathlessness and can trigger heart failure. While there is medication available to slow down the deterioration of the heart muscles, such patients need heart transplants.