NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2019 – Pediatric heart disease is a term used to describe several different heart conditions in children. The most common type of pediatric heart disease is congenital, meaning that children are born with it.
There are numerous types of congenital heart defects. They can range from simple conditions that don’t cause symptoms to complex problems that cause severe, life-threatening symptoms
The Nairobi Hospital has a fund that provides a resource for treating needy children with congenital heart disease from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The hospital hosts an annual golf tournament with the aim of raising funds to facilitate their heart operations.
Last year, the contributions of over 5 million from partnering corporates enabled the hospital to perform 16 heart surgeries for underprivileged children, majority of whom had no access to quality medical care and were destined to a sickly life and premature death, but they are now living a better life.
Paul, one of the fund’s beneficiaries, started experiencing problems with his health at the age of 4. Every 3 -4 months, he would lose consciousness as he enjoyed play time with his friends at school. Paul’s father, Kennedy Opande worked as a driver at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and would comfortably cater for his son’s medical care.
In June 2018, his father’s contract at KEMRI ended and as a result, meeting the cost of treatment became challenging. He used up all the family savings to visit hospitals in search of a diagnosis and treatment for his son.
Early this year, Paul’s fainting became frequent. He would experience this at-least once every week leading him to discontinue school. Paul was finally referred to KNH, where he was diagnosed with Sub-Aortic Membrane causing severe Left Ventricular Outflow Obstruction.
An open-heart surgery was recommended. Given the financial struggles this family has gone through, Dr. Naomi Gachara referred them to TNH as candidate of the Charity Heart Fund. On 20th May 2019, Paul went through a successful open-heart surgery.
Reson Tumanka is yet another beneficiary. When she first visited Dr. Maina’s clinic in 2017, it was discovered that she had been experiencing several symptoms for several years. She often experienced tiredness and shortness of breath on performance of basic activities.
She has been attending regular cardiology clinics ever since. Dr. Maina, her cardiologist referred her to TNH Charity Heart Fund Committee given the following concerns; Reson had been having Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Carditis and Aortic Valve Disease.
This would require an open-heart surgery to replace the valve but Reson’s family which had been struggling all along to even to attend basic clinic could not raise the money for the operation.
She was identified as a needy case and, on the 3rd June 2019, Reson successfully underwent an open-heart surgery and was discharged 5 days later.
Angel Wanjiru who is now 5 years old started ailing at birth. Simultaneously, her mother fell ill and couldn’t breastfeed her.
Angel has visited different hospitals as a result. This includes Kiambu County Hospital and Thika Level 5 hospital. She later received a referral to The Cardiology Clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart defect. She has been attending this clinic for the last 3 years.
Angel required an open-heart surgery as the most effective form of treatment which her father a casual laborer in construction her mother is a housewife who has also been suffering from a chronic illness could not manage to finance.
Given these circumstances, this family could hardly afford the cost of an open-heart surgery. She was referred to TNH for assistance through the Charity Heart Fund. She is the latest beneficiary of the Charity Heart Fund after having undergone a successful open-heart surgery on the 10th June 2019.