Heart Healers helped to place 37 Ugandan children with congenital heart disease for successful heart surgery in India, the United States and Grand Cayman in 2017 with additional support from Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project and Gift of Life International. Dr. Sable personally evaluated all of these children along with over 100 others during visits in March and August this year.
Over 100 children have received open-heart surgery in Uganda in the last two years; survival is comparable to US programs, over 95%, but many more need to be treated. Heart Healers has played a major role in advancing diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities – doing the first open heart surgical procedure in 2007 and cardiac catheterization in 2012, side by side with the Ugandan team. Dr. Sable has also performed and interpreted echocardiograms on over 100 children each year since 2003, using telemedicine to share these images with physicians around the globe to facilitate acceptance of more complex patients abroad and improving surgical planning in Uganda.
Congenital heart disease remains the most common birth defect globally, impacting 1% of all children with 1/3 requiring corrective surgery or catheterization to survive into adulthood. Nearly 9 out of 10 children with congenital heart disease are born in countries without access to surgery; we have changed that in Uganda; helping to build a sustainable program there. And we still partner with institutions around the world to care for Ugandan children that are still too complex to be treated locally. The faces and stories of a few of the children who have recently undergone surgery in India as a result of Heart Healers presence in Uganda is even more compelling.
Mariam (left) is a 2-year-old girl with a large hole in her heart and also had a very large abdominal hernia. She was referred to us by our team in Mubende, Western Uganda and evaluated during one of our research trips for our pregnancy project. She was able to get both conditions fixed at the same time.
Faith (center) is a 4-month-old diagnosed by our team in Gulu with truncus arteriosus, a complex heart condition that is more common in Uganda than in other countries. This condition is fatal if not fixed in the first 6 months of life. Faith underwent successful surgery and has doubled her weight and is thriving. She is shown back home in Uganda.
Benson (right) is a 5-year-old boy from Kampala with a large hole in his heart and high pressure in his lungs. We have been following him since he was a baby and his surgery was felt to be very high risk. Benson was running out of time to be an acceptable surgery candidate. Fortunately, he had an excellent outcome and now has a new lease on life.