Dotting Grandfather’s Tireless Battle to Save 4-Month-Old Grandson from Rare Heart Condition Touches Hearts

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Dirk Brouwer (61), a resident of Strathavon, Johannesburg, has embarked on a deeply moving crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to raise funds for his first grandson, Levi, who was born on January 23, 2023, with a rare Congenital Heart Defect known as singular ventricle complex.

Levi’s unique heart condition, affecting only 0.005% of newborns, means he has only one chamber instead of the usual four. This poses a significant challenge as oxygenated and deoxygenated blood mix within his delicate heart, placing strain on his lungs and depriving his system of vital oxygen. While his condition cannot be cured, it can be managed through a series of intricate open-heart surgeries over the course of several years.

Levi has a unique heart condition that affects only 0.005% of newborns.

When Levi’s parents, Duan (28) and Cayley Brouwer (27), received heart-wrenching news about their son’s condition, they faced three difficult choices. The first option, terminating the pregnancy, was unbearably painful and would have meant depriving Levi of experiencing the beauty of life.

The second option involved subjecting Levi to a series of risky open-heart surgeries, the first of which had to be performed within his first fragile weeks. The third option, equally heartbreaking, was to forgo the surgeries and provide Levi with hospice care upon his arrival into the world.

Filled with boundless love and an unwavering spirit, Duan and Cayley chose the second option, cherishing every moment they can spend with their resilient Levi. However, this decision has placed them under immense financial strain.

Duan had to leave his career in the live events industry to be Cayley’s pillar of strength, ensuring he remains by Levi’s side to face any unforeseen medical emergencies. Meanwhile, Cayley had to put aside her professional aspirations to devote herself entirely to Levi’s intricate care.

First Mother’s day: Duan and Cayley with their son, Levi Brouwer.

Crowdfunding on BackaBuddy

The family is now burdened with a daunting financial responsibility that exceeds R3 million (ZAR) for the necessary medical treatments, with costs surpassing R1.3 million even after the initial surgery.

Seeking comprehensive medical coverage, the family joined a medical aid membership that requires a monthly sum of approximately R10,500 (+- $600). Unfortunately, their previous plan did not cover the specialized care Levi requires, adding to the already overwhelming financial strain.

With a heavy heart but filled with hope, Levi’s grandfather, Dirk, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy with the ambitious goal of raising R240,000 ($13,000). These funds are crucial to cover Levi’s treatment over the next 12 months as he undergoes multiple surgeries and medical interventions.


The campaign aims to alleviate the tremendous financial burden weighing on Duan and Cayley, empowering them to navigate Levi’s complex medical journey while bridging the income gap caused by Duan’s career transition. Since its launch, the campaign has already raised almost R20,000 with the support of 17 donors on BackaBuddy.

Levi’s unwavering resilience is evident through the successful completion of his first open-heart surgery at just two weeks old. This achievement has filled the family with hope as they prepare for his upcoming surgery, the “Glenn shunt” procedure, scheduled for June 28, 2023, when Levi will be 5 months and 5 days old. 

During this procedure, his pediatric surgeon will redirect the blood flow returning from the top half of his body directly to his lungs, which will reduce the amount of deoxygenated blood in his heart. The final operation, anticipated when Levi is around 3-4 years old, will redirect the blood flow from the bottom half of his body to his lungs, concluding his open-heart surgeries and resolving the blood mixing issue.

Cayley expresses her love and gratitude for Levi, saying, “Levi is an incredible little boy. He takes every challenge in his stride, with a smile on his face. He has taught me and his father what it truly means to be strong and how to go through life with grace and joy in your heart. He is a blessing to all who know him, especially to me and his father. The love I have for this little boy is immeasurable, and I cannot wait to see all the adventures he gets to have throughout his life. Levi is our little miracle.”

Cayley with son, Levi.

Duan adds, “Levi has inspired me to be a better father, son, and husband. Seeing the way my little boy looks at this new world has made me appreciate all of life’s beauty anew each day. Levi wakes up every day ready to learn something new and gets excited every time he hears his mother’s voice. To see my son grow and fall deeper in love with his mom every day makes my daily challenges a joy instead of a chore. The love I have for my son and my wife is indescribable, and I thank God for every precious second.”

Dirk Brouwer, Levi’s compassionate grandfather, understands the heart-wrenching challenges faced by families with premature children. Empathizing with the emotional turmoil of balancing work obligations and being there for loved ones during their most vulnerable moments, Dirk has taken on the responsibility of managing the funds for Levi’s medical care. By initiating the crowdfunding campaign, Dirk aims to celebrate Levi’s indomitable spirit and demonstrate his unwavering belief in the power of love and community support.

Proud grandpa, Dirk with Levi

Dirk extends a heartfelt invitation to compassionate souls from all walks of life to embrace the opportunity to make a difference. In this collective outpouring of kindness, no act is too small, and each contribution, regardless of size, will forever leave a mark of love and hope upon Levi’s indomitable heart.

“We are immensely grateful to have had Levi with us for five months already. He is a God-given miracle who fills our hearts with immeasurable joy, happiness, and gratitude. This young, faithful family holds an incredibly special place in our hearts,” expresses Dirk, speaking on behalf of the family.

To support the extraordinary medical journey of baby Levi, please visit Dirk Brouwer’s crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy and join the compassionate community rallying behind this resilient family.

Create your own Crowdfunding Campaign

South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has raised over R400 Million in support of various worthy causes from donors from around the world.

If you’re a charity or an individual in need of funds for medical needs, tuition fees or simply want to pay it forward, launch a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy here.

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