When a child in the US is diagnosed with strep throat, they’re typically prescribed a round of antibiotics and recover without complication. The same cannot be said for children in developing countries. Often time’s infections go untreated and result in Rheumatic Heart Disease. RHD affects 15.6 million people globally and completely preventable. If RHD goes untreated, a child’s heart valves become inflamed and the ability to pump blood is impaired. The end result is advanced heart failure and death by early adulthood.
The volunteer organization Team Heart, led by a cardiac surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was organized to in 2008 to address and prevent both the cause and effects of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Rwanda. On the team’s first trip to Kigali, Rwanda and surgeons performed 11 life-saving operations on patients. The team has returned every year since with an overall mission to address and prevent this public health epidemic. As of 2016, they have performed over 100 advanced cardiac surgery procedures (25% of the in-country heart surgeries performed since 2008). Their hard work and determination has one goal in mind: help Rwanda build an independent, self-sustaining cardiac program.
We’re proud to partner with Team Heart when it comes to providing heart pillows for their patients and look forward to the pictures and stories they bring back with them each year.