Africa Outreach: Patient Updates from Uganda

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Right now, members of our Cardiology team are in Uganda providing treatment to children with heart disease, as well as training and education for Ugandan healthcare workers. The teams, led by Cardiologist Craig Sable, MD, have been helping children abroad for 15 years. Team members will be posting updates from the field on our blog. Our fourth post is from Cabrina Cacioppo, RN, a nurse in our Cardiac ICU.

I would like to introduce the one and only Christian! We’ve been working with Christian for a few years now. He is being followed by our cardiology and genetics teams for a condition called Noonan syndrome. Biochemical and Clinical Geneticist Brendan Lanpher, MD, and Genetic Counselor Laura Harris Kofman, have worked closely with Christian and his family while he has patiently waited for surgery for more than a year. 

He was very excited to be getting the surgery he needs and was actually asking his mom to take him to the operating room before we were even ready. Christian had his atrial septal defect (ASD) closed, a resection of his supravalvular stenosis, and a pulmonary valvotomy on Monday. He came out of the operating room extubated and by Tuesday he was out of bed and walking around. On Wednesday, we transferred him to the step down unit and he is doing amazing. When I walked in to check on him Thursday, I got the biggest smile I have ever seen. It literally warmed my heart. His mother is a nurse here in Uganda and she is extremely grateful that her son was able to have this life-saving surgery. Hopefully, he will be discharged home by the beginning of next week.

Patient Updates

On Thursday, we operated on three patients with a defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. One of our patients, Victoria, went into the operating room walking and talking with an oxygen saturation of 48 percent and came out of surgery with an oxygen saturation of 96 percent. She was extubated in the operating room, sitting up a few hours after being admitted to the intensive care unit, and was even sipping on some water by the evening.

Another patient, Allan, also had a Tetralogy of Fallot repair on Thursday and two hours later his first words to me were, “I’m going to report you to my father.” He wasn’t too happy about the surgery, but he sure did give his father and I a good laugh when I told him his son was going to report me.
All the kids in the unit are doing wonderful at the moment. Currently, there are eight patients and each one inspires me everyday with their strength and resilience. To be 5 years old walking around with an oxygen saturation in the 40s and 50s in a developing nation where health care is so limited, I would say the odds are against them.  Yet, here they are not only overcoming those odds but also overcoming open heart surgery. They are truly inspiring kids!


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