Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Starfish Theory From Louise King, MD

Dr. Louise King and her husband, Dr. Caleb are Missionaries in Ruhengeri....they post a weekly blog which we have followed for a few years... Louise  has diagnosed and followed many of our patients. 


A Starfish

by thekingfamilyinRwanda
My father likes to tell the story of a 2 men on the beach, where there were thousands upon thousands of washed up starfish on the sand. One man was throwing starfish back, one by one. The other man, seeing the multitude of starfish still out of the water, said “Why are you doing that? It doesn’t make any difference?” to which the man who was throwing the starfish replied, as he threw another back in the ocean, “It made a difference to that one.”
Here’s my latest starfish: Angelique.

Angelique is 18 years old with very bad heart failure from leaky valves, from rheumatic heart disease that she probably contracted as a child. She herself has a small baby and until last week, she was unable to walk across the room without getting short of breath, and she desperately needed a valve replacement. She was evaluated 2 weeks ago by Team Heart, an awesome group of nurses, echo techs, cardiologists, and cardiac surgeons from Boston, who come every year to operate on people like Angelique. I had the gut sense that this time next year, Angelique wouldn’t be around for a second chance; this was it, so I was really praying for her. The cardiology teams have a tough time choosing patients-there are so many sick heart patients. The patients have to be sick enough to need surgery but not too sick that they won’t survive the operation. There was initially some concern that Angelique had an underlying infection, but it cleared up and she was operated on and received not one, but two, artificial valves. I was thankful that God gave me the wisdom to have her come in a couple of days early to get “tuned up” before the cardiology team came. And I am very thankful for Team Heart

And we are thankful to Dr. King. Angelique has returned home and we feel better knowing she will be watched carefully over the next few critical months of recovery. !

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Note from Andy! Kigali Reads

Note: Andy is a 5 year veteran corporate volunteer from St. Jude Medical, based in Minnesota and  long time supporter of our vision to provide care in Rwanda. Not only does he carry boxes and wash surgical instruments-- which is very different from his shirt and tie daily existence, but from the very first he developed our relationship with Gisimba orphanage.  Although Gisimba is different in number and ages of  occupants now  (with the country's increased emphasis in foster homes), the needs are huge as funding has decreased. 

Andy writes, "I want to first of all say I had an amazing time in Rwanda this year and I enjoyed seeing old TH friends and meeting some new ones.   I also want to thank you all for welcoming Drew into the TH family with such open arms!  Drew had the time of his life and he referred to the trip to a local reporter as "a profoundly life-changing experience".  

Lastly, I wanted to thank you for your generosity in supporting the Gisimba Orphanage and our newest partner, the Kigali Reading Center.   We raised over $2,500 which was used to buy food and medical supplies for the orphanage and to help support the KRC to buy books, bookshelves and other needed supplies for the children.  

I am including some pictures to show you the kind of difference that TH makes, in addition to the incredible life-saving work done at KFH". 

1.food supplies for Gismba

2.the reading room gets some fun new books and is an after school enrichment program

 3. A Banner announcing the partnership of Kigali Reads and Team Heart--and the first delivery of 700 books!
 4. The first aid room was empty! Now well stocked with  bandages, Neosporin, disinfectants and Tylenol needed for another year until we return!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Patient Reunion-Hugs all Around

Our patients looked so healthy  and many of them were happy to reconnect with their  care providers from Team Heart!  Over 80 patients joined us and we hosted 120 people for lunch including the patients and their families.  Our guest speaker for the event was John Bosco, Rwanda's 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.  He has a biodiesel start-up company that converts trash into fuel and gave a very inspirational talk. It was followed by a presentation by Fabrice to discuss dental health as part of heart health and HHNW Patient Evariste, nearing completion Masters degree in Project Management. 

 Our patients also were given the opportunity to have follow up echocardiograms at King Faisal  Hospital.   

We are so happy they are all spreading the word about the prevention of rheumatic heart disease throughout Rwanda.

Our patients had the opportunity to participate in a research study at the reunion...a project we hope will lead to answers about RHD in Rwanda. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Team Heart Joins Forces with Kigali Reads

We are excited to announce brand new partnership of Team Heart and Kigali Reads!   This initiative began when Ceeya met Parfait, a Rwandan who is getting his graduate degree at UMASS and learned about his work with Kigali Reads.  Parfait has worked hard to establish  a literacy center for children to go to before and after school in Rwanda but needed some help securing some books for the Center .  The Willett family  took this project on and collected over 600 books which were shipped to Rwanda  with the Team Heart supplies and delivered  to  Kigali Reads by Drew, Anne and Rick.  The children were so happy to receive the books!   They opened the boxes like it was Christmas morning.

We had much needed assistance carrying the books down a narrow path to the new reading center, .Rindiro Jean from Kigali Reads, Drew and his new friend.

Andy is holding up the new banner announcing the partnership between Kigali Reads and Team Heart with Grace, the reading center's director.  Grace is Parfait's sister.  The children are shown here  are holding water bottles and wearing shirts  donated by Furnace Brook Middle School  in Marshfield, MA.

We are Hard at Work in Rwanda!!

Many of our dedicated nurses come from Near and far.  We couldn't do what we do without these dedicated individuals!  Pictured here we have Joy from Seattle, Harriet, Judy  and Madelon from South Carolina, Lydia and Molly from Vermont, Lauren from Colorado and Suellen and Kayla from Boston

Patrick, the Rwandese medical resident assigned to Team Heart is working on increasing his ECHO skills with Marilyn, one of our cardiac sonographers. A cardiac sonographer images the heart with ultra sound. We identify the patients needing surgery with this tool and then follow them throughout  their surgery and recovery using this imaging technique. Many of the patients who have had heart surgery in previous years will come back to the hospital to have their heart checked with one of our sonographers this year.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Team Heart is making progress:)

We are so pleased to announce our first patient, 25 year old Aline has been moved out of the ICU and into the Stepdown ward.  Aline lives in an orphanage in Nyanza Province where many of our other patients have lived.  In the picture she is with our nurses Hillary from Minnesota, Molly from Vermont and Beatha from Rwanda. 
Last year we were able to perform surgery on fifteen  year old Redempta. Because of the poor living conditions and the need for the patients to stay on blood thinners, her Mother felt she could not properly care for her. Now, a year later Redempta is thriving; she is healthy and happy and yes, as her Mother had hoped, through an educational scholarship is living with our nurse practitioner Julie's family.  This year Redempta is here with us in Rwanda to offer encouragement to others who are facing valve replacement surgery.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Team Heart 2015 had their first official gathering yesterday in Rwanda to select the patients who will be operated on while we are here.  The screening team did and excellent job of identifying then presenting the many acutely ill patients that are candidates for surgery.  It was a very long day with many productive discussions about  each person presented. The patients selected will have life saving heart valve replacement surgery with tissue or mechanical valves within the next few days.  Pictured below is part of the team lead by Dr. Chip Bolman hard at work.

These are some of our wonderful nurses Connie, Susan and Hilary who are awaiting the arrival of their first post-op surgery patient in the Intensive care unit on Monday. Connie and Susan have been here many times before but this is Hilary's first trip to Rwanda with Team Heart

Our first patient who is a 25-year old young man is successfully transferred to the ICU!  Pictured below is Dr. Bruce Leavitt looking on as the Rwandan team and Team Heart members begin post operative care.