Five of the seven children who were flown to India with heart and respiratory complications, returned to Uganda after undergoing successful heart surgeries. Among the five who returned include, Daniel Lutaaya 14months old, Hassan Kato 4years, Shiffah Namazzi 2years and Ronnie Katungi 11months. Anitah Kabaruri a mother to Lutaaya narrated what her son went through before the heart operation, saying, he used to find difficulty in breathing which could be mistaken for snoring.
“His growth remained stunted and was wailing almost all the time. At Mulago heart institute, he was diagnosed with truncus, a rare heart defect in which a single common blood vessel comes out of the heart, instead of the usual two blood vessels,” explained Kabaruri.
She noted that Lutaya’s operation required Sh80m which money she did not have. “I was directed by some medics to a gentleman known as George Ntambi who subsequently started up a fundraising campaign for my son’s surgery,” added Kabaruri.
Jesca Namukwaya a mother to 4year-old Hassan Kato could not hold tears while intimating what she had to go through, to have her son get a heart surgery. “Initially, he seemed to have acquired pneumonia, only to receive the shocking news after I had taken him to Mulago hospital,” narrated a teary Namukwaya. Upon their return, the 4year-old Kato was beaming with joy, much of which was for having travelled in an aeroplane.
For 21year-old Shifah Namazzi had been asked for Sh40m to operate her 2year-old son Martin Kiwalabye who had been diagnosed with heart complications. After a fruitless search of wellwishers in Mityana where she abodes, Namazzi was directed to Ntambi who helped to fundraise for travel and free medical operation for her son.
Constance Katungi, a mother to 11months-old Ronnie Katungi, did not have kind words for Uganda’s healthcare system which she said was charging highly from heart patients.
“My son’s operation needed over Sh75m which I and my husband could not afford. After my story was published in the Newvision paper, a man who identified himself as Ntambi contacted me. Not only did he work on every medical, transport and accommodation bills, but he often counselled me,” expressed Katungi who narrated her story while kneeling down at Entebbe airport.
Ntambi who heads a Non-profit making organisation known as Action for Disadvantaged people, could not hold his joy while welcoming back the four mothers and their children. He noted that the Uganda heart institute is doing a lot of work in regard to heart complications. “But some of the cases can not be handled from there, hence referred to India for advanced operations,” explained Ntambi.
He lauded several organisations and companies for having highlighted the plight of such children and sponsoring their operation, travel and accommodation bills. “For I, only work as a chain between these organisations and the people who need help,” Ntambi remarked.
Medical reports from the Uganda heart institute indicate that Cardiovascular disease which includes heart disease and stroke, is responsible for 17.3 million premature deaths in the world, and this is expected to rise to 23 million deaths by 2030. The report also shows that currently in Uganda, every 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure. “Unfortunately 80% of them are unaware of the disease,” adds a report.
Additional Reporting by Resty Nasaazi