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When Eyram did not take all of her medication, she had seizures. She lived in total fear.
NOTE FROM EDITOR: This content honors Compassion’s historical work in India. While we no longer have an India sponsorship program, we are grateful for the lives changed and meaningful work achieved through our sponsors and donors in our nearly 50 years there. For a detailed explanation of the end of our sponsorship program in India, please visit: compassion.com/india-update.
Superstitious beliefs and a fear of doctors prevent many people in India from taking their sick children to the hospital. They would rather get medicine from a local pharmacy, where pharmacists supply tablets and syrups without a doctor’s prescription.
Hemant’s parents had little awareness of health and education. Hemant’s father, Venkobrao, works as a load man in the market, loading and unloading fruits and vegetables. His job is seasonal and when there is work, he earns about 80 Indian rupees (approximately $1.50 U.S.) a day.
No one knew the reason for Hemant’s chronic sickness. All his parents knew was that he frequently fell ill and suffered. This affected his education as well. With poor school attendance, he fared badly on his exams. When health is a priority, education naturally becomes secondary.
When Hemant fell sick with fever, we counseled his parents and immediately rushed him to a nearby hospital. After a complete checkup he was diagnosed as having three holes in his heart. The doctor told his parents,
“If not treated within six months, your son will die.”
The surgery would cost more than $2,100 U.S. — a sum far above the family’s means. Radhabai, Hemant’s mother, shares,
“Even if we worked all through our life, we could never afford this.”
But thanks to the Complementary Interventions Medical Fund, Hemant received immediate surgery and his life was saved.
Today, Hemant is an active boy in the fifth grade. He is coping in his studies and is involved in sports. He loves to play football and cricket and dreams of becoming a policeman.
“My days of pain and agony are over now that my son is no longer ill. How relieved I am. If not for Compassion’s help, I could have never seen my son alive. I am so grateful.”
Now Hemant’s family knows there is someone to support them in times of crisis. They realize that they are loved and cared for. As a family, they now believe in God and regularly participate in Sunday worship services.
Fatao’s story is one of a shy boy who used to spend most of his time away from other children because of the heart disease he suffered from. Today he is fully active and uses every single minute of the day doing things he could not do for many years.
The total cost of Fatao’s surgery, including passport, visa, travel, the surgery itself and follow-up care, is $23,000. As we did a few years ago with Alexander, we’re asking you for help. Please make a donation to help pay for Fatao’s heart surgery.
One of the benefits Rossy received as a sponsored child was a medical checkup. It was during her first medical checkup that the doctor identified a suspicious murmur in her heart.
There are nearly 6 million children worldwide with potentially treatable congenital and acquired heart defects that do not have access to care. In 2009, of the estimated 6,000 children in Uganda in need of cardiac intervention, only 172 received treatment (Uganda Heart Institute).
Alex was one of the statistics — a child with a heart problem with seemingly no hope for treatment. Alex’s father recalls:
“It started as a fever. My wife and I took my son, Alex, to the hospital, but it did not get any better. And when we took him to a bigger hospital, his symptoms baffled the doctors. They had no solution for us but to refer us to the Mulago Heart Institute where we started on a course of treatment.
“This went on for three years with no change. At that point I started to pray to God, saying if it is God’s will to take him away from us then so be it. I spoke to Alex as well and he was of the same mind. Because the doctors saw that I was poor they feared to tell me about the operation abroad because they knew I could not afford it.”
Like many children whose heart conditions go untreated, Alex and his family prepared for the worst.
Several weeks ago, Compassion internally released a book communicating its brand, its mission and its character to employees worldwide. I eagerly flipped through the pages, as I always do, looking for photography by my co-workers.
On the second page was our mission statement, “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name,” and a picture of Roselyn.
I remember the first time I read about Roselyn. It was my first month on the job.in the Philippines had written a story about her in September 2007:
Have you ever heard of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)? Apparently, it’s a congenital heart defect.
If you have a defect in your interatrial septum, the tissue that divides the right side of your heart from the left side, your blood can get confused. And if that happens, you end up with blood that goes where it shouldn’t. That’s bad.
In a normal heart, the left ventricle has to produce enough pressure to pump blood throughout the entire body, but the right ventricle has to produce only enough pressure to pump blood to the lungs.
In the case of a large defect, this pressure difference means that blood from the left atrium can flood and enlarge the right side of the heart and, if left untreated, can result in heart failure.
That’s ASD in a nutshell. And this is why I tell you.
Alexander is an 8-year-old Kenyan boy who has ASD. He is in the third grade and is the youngest child in a family of five. Because his heart has been pumping deoxygenated blood to his growing body for his entire life, Alexander is smaller than most children his age.
In August 2008, during an evaluation at the child development center, a pediatrician noticed that Alexander has a heart murmur. Follow-up tests in Nairobi identified the birth defect and recommended a cardiac catheterization procedure and open heart surgery.
But Alexander’s parents are peasant farmers, and his mother sells fruit at the market to earn extra income. They survive on $13.70 per month.
$13.70 a month is barely adequate to meet the family’s basic needs, let alone pay for open heart surgery.
At this point, heart failure is a real possibility for Alexander. However, studies have shown that patients with a surgically repaired ASD have an excellent prognosis, particularly when the operation is done before the age of 25.
But Alexander’s family can’t afford the operation. It costs $8,303.
Alexander has been waiting to receive the surgery for several months now, since early December, but he can’t wait any longer. His condition has recently worsened – which made me think ofback in February.
“I am just kicking around a few ideas here. What if Compassion had a “Spotlight of the Week” – or “Spotlight of the Month?” It could be either a child (medical need?), family, or small community need. It could even be in the area of the global financial crisis, disaster relief, Child Survival Program, or some other facet of Compassion. For example, one week you could highlight the (global food crisis) need of a community in Uganda to have goats or seeds for crops (or both). After the donations have been given, you could easily follow up with a story in the blog to share the results of the giving.”
So, Alexander has a need. And our objective is to give him a normal heart. Can we do this for him?
Make a donation to help pay for Alexander’s surgery. (Update: May 21, 2009 – You did it! And more. You contributed around $10,000. I expect to have the exact amount tomorrow.)
Thank you for loving this child.
As I receive updates on how Alexander is doing, I will share them with you. I can’t promise you updates with any degree of regularity though. I can just promise that there will be a follow-up.