Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, occurring in 1% of all children. With intervention (surgery or heart catheterization), many children with heart problems have a normal life expectancy and quality of life – in 2014 survival after heart surgery in children approaches 98%. Without treatment, these children will become progressively sicker and are unlikely to survive into adulthood; many will die before 5 years of age.
Unfortunately, only 7% of the world’s population has access to corrective heart treatment that is available in developed countries; sub-Saharan Africa is the worst off. There are nearly 6 million children worldwide with potentially treatable congenital heart defects that do not have access to care including an estimated 5,000 – 6,000 children in Uganda in need of cardiac intervention in 2014. Before 2007, the only option for children in need of open-heart surgery was to go abroad; most cases at a cost that was not affordable to the family of the child.
Common Congenital Heart Defects That We Treat:
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Ventricular Septal Defect
- Atrial Septal Defect
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus
- Pulmonary Valve Stenosis
The first open heart surgery in Uganda was performed in 2007, and that patient, Edward Kasajji, had an opportunity to personally meet with Ugandan President Museveni less than one week after his surgery and show him the importance of our work. President Museveni challenged us to eliminate the need for any child in need of cardiac surgery to leave Uganda. We are closer to that goal than we ever could have imagined; the Uganda Heart Institute is poised to be a regional referral center. However, much work needs to be done and we will not succeed without help from generous donors.