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Medical Trip to Uganda Provides Life-Saving Surgeries

BBF Global Relief gave a grant to Heart Healers International to help fund a trip to Uganda that provided life-saving surgeries for 10 patients with congenital heart disease or rheumatic heart disease.

Congenital heart disease (CHD), a heart condition present since birth, can affect blood flow to the rest of the body, causing a rapid heartbeat, fast breathing, and extreme fatigue. Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) occurs when heart valves incur permanent inflammation and scarring from rheumatic fever. Severe cases of both conditions require surgery to repair issues.

However, in many developing countries, access to these surgeries is limited.

Heart Healers International is a nonprofit organization that brings life-saving heart diagnostics and treatments to children. Dr. Craig Sable, a cardiologist at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, leads the organization and has visited Uganda more than 40 times since 2003. Working with doctors at the Uganda Heart Institute in Mulago Hospital, the largest public teaching hospital in Uganda, Sable has improved the care of children with heart disease by providing cardiology education and leading 18 open-heart surgery mission trips.

Dr. Sable took his most recent trip to Uganda, funded in part by BBF Global Relief, in November 2023. Working together with doctors at UHI, Dr. Sable and a team of US medical professionals developed a surgical operations plan and reviewed the echocardiograms of the patients selected for surgery. Together, the doctors performed open heart surgeries on nine children and one adult with RHD or CHD. Dr. Sable and his team of medical professionals left supplies to help UHI address additional cases of heart disease.

Mohammed is a 15-year-old boy from Mukono diagnosed with RHD characterized by severe mitral regurgitation, mild aortic insufficiency and tricuspid regurgitation and moderate pulmonary hypertension. Mohammed was identified as a candidate for surgery.
Dr Sable on left
Abigail is a 14-year-old girl from Kampala. She was diagnosed with RHD with severe mitral regurgitation, moderate atrial and tricuspid valve regurgitation, and severe pulmonary hypertension. Abigail was very sick prior to her surgery, but she did very well post-operatively and was out of the ICU within a week following her operation.