Ubah Mahmud Mohammed on her discharge day

Ubah Mahmud Mohammed, a 15 year old girl born and raised in Dadaab, Kenya’s Refugee camp in Eastern Kenya who lives with her family of six siblings and her parents is in need of a lifesaving heart surgery.

Wearing a niqab, she sits quietly listening and watching as the doctors and her mother discuss the procedure that she is scheduled to undergo. When asked to lie on the couch to allow for the Cardiac team to perform a cardiac evaluation, she does so without uttering a word.

Ubah’s ailment started in 2018 with aches in her joints. At first she sought treatment in the health centre and when it worsened, her mother brought her to Nairobi. They visited a several health facilities where she was advised to take medication which eased the joint aches. As time went by, she was unable to go to school and could not perform chores at home.

“Ubah had to drop out of school because her health was deteriorating by day and we could not tell what was happening.  She could not play with other children and would get tired quickly” says her mother.

Ubah with Carol Nandwa, Heart to Heart Programme Coordinator

A friend advised them to visit The Karen Hospital and assured them that they would get help. At the hospital, they visited the Heart to Heart Foundation offices, a CSR arm of the hospital that assists children with heart conditions to get financial assistance to undergo heart surgeries. To date, the foundation has supported over 400 children from needy backgrounds to undergo lifesaving heart surgeries.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has adversely affected our events such as the heart run and Gala Dinner; we would like to urge people to continue supporting the vulnerable children though the foundation as we still have very many children waiting to undergo heart surgeries.” Stated Carol Nandwa, the Heart to Heart Programme Coordinator.

Upon completion of the background check and with all the paperwork completed, they were requested to do the relevant preliminary tests. A date was then set for the procedure.

On 20th August, 2020 Ubah is wheeled in to theatre for her heart surgery. Her mother and sister stand at the red line in theatre and watch as the theatre nurses cross check that everything is in order. A few minutes later, she is wheeled past the theatre doors and disappears.  A sombre mood engulfs her family and they say a silent prayer and leave her in the hands of Allah and the team.

A few hours later, the Cardiothoracic Surgeon emerges from the theatre and explains to the family that the surgery was successful and that within 15 minutes, Ubah would be wheeled in to the ICU where she would recuperate for two days before going to the ward. Her mother sighs with relief and you can see her balancing tears of joy as they receive the good news.

Next morning at 9am, Ubah is seated on her bed enjoying her breakfast.  She has the biggest and brightest smile on her face. If one did not know what procedure she had undergone, you would be forgiven to think she was in the ICU for observation.

“We are very grateful to the entire Karen hospital team especially the heart doctors, Heart to Heart foundation, nurses and care givers for the care and support given to Ubah during her diagnosis, procedure and stay at the hospital.” her mother expresses as she watches Uber use the spirometry.

Beaming with Joy on her discharge day, Ubah exclaims; “I feel so happy that I will be going back to school where I will learn English and Kiswahili. I will also eat more and gain more kilos just as the doctor advised!”

Left to Right- Ubah’s Sister, Heart To Heart Programme Coordinator- Carol Nandwa , Ubah, Ubah’s mother and The Karen Hospital Cardiac Programme Coordinator- Mercy Nyakio