Thursday, March 3, 2016

Visits from patients of past years! So they begin...

There have been many special moments, but one in recent days admittedly without compare: a joyful reunion with a former patient. As word spreads that we are back at King Faisal, there comes a steady stream of healthy, smiling Rwandans - former patients - returning for follow-up but bringing with them so much more. 

To see these patients, once so thin and compromised, now so vital, ready with robust hugs and grateful greetings - what a gift. And what they are making with their lives - a teacher here, a medical student there, and another student, this one in procurement   - they carry with them the inspiration of their new lease on life. 

On Thursday a quiet young lady arrived. Donatha from 2015! Our last patient on the last day. We would have liked to have her scheduled in the beginning, because of her extreme wasting due to the rheumatic heart disease, but an error in pre-admission lab testing disqualified her initially. The screening team worked to get her retested and she was accepted to be our last procedure of the trip. She never would have survived to travel to India or until another team arrived.  She required hospitalization for 9 weeks, but now is healthy and back in school to make up lost ground. We are all so happy....the stories such as this are incredible. #wecanonlydo16. #shemadeourday

First patient to Step-down on Wednesday

It's great being back at King Faisal Hospital for the 9th year, preparing for a great trip with Team Heart and sixteen life-saving surgeries. As we prepare the step-down unit for opening, we reflect on the previous patients that have followed this path and are doing so well. It's exciting to see a group of enthusiastic and passionate professionals come together for such a worthy cause.

Today we had our first step down ICU patient! Although we had some speed bumps on our road to recovery, she triumphed and pushed through. With her strength and support from Team Heart, she was able to be disconnected from her IV drips, chest tubes were removed, and she was eating full meals!  She was applauded by the King Faisal and Team Heart Staff as she exited the ICU. She has such a strong spirit, that she walked about 22 feet to her bed--AMAZING!

She continues to inspire us as she ambulates (or walks)  multiple times and wows us with her beauty and her smile. She was very ill before surgery and this photo makes her appear like she is almost well! It is very misleading to the patients as they have a hard time convincing family they must take it easy during recovery for 8 weeks before returning to farm. She is the mother of twins, a boy and a girl now almost 2 1/2. She,  like so many young women with RHD was diagnosed in pregnancy.  She is the patient we love to do. A strong will to live and to return to her family. 

She has given her permission to use her photograph.