Monday July 28 2014

Girl seeks Shs15m for heart surgery

Bernita Nakintu holding a medical form from th

Bernita Nakintu holding a medical form from the Uganda Heart Institute. She is soliciting funds to undergo surgery. Photo by Stephen Wandera 

By Stephen Wandera

When Bernita Nakintu, who is three and a half years old, runs around smiling for the cameras and constantly asking her mother questions, no one would think she is struggling with a heart condition.

Despite being active and looking healthy, Nakintu has a hole in the heart, and doctors say she needs to undergo surgery before the end of October this year.

According to a medical report from the Uganda Heart Institute, signed by Dr Joselyn Rwebembera, a consultant paediatrician, Nakintu’s has a congenital heart defect that has created a hole in her heart. Dr Rwebembera says the condition could become dangerous if surgery is not carried out as soon as possible.

Congenital heart defect
A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defects that involve the walls, valves, arteries and veins near the heart.

They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

Nakintu’s mother, Moreen Kyarisiima says her daughter has not had any health threatening condition before.
“But in the last few months, she has been having on-and-off fever. First, I took her to the clinic because I thought she had typhoid or malaria, but the tests turned out to be negative,” says Kyarisiima.

It was from the clinic that Nakintu was then referred to the Uganda Heart Institute at Mulago after doctors suspected it could have been a heart related condition. After two visits to the heart institute, doctors confirmed that Nakintu indeed had a hole in the heart.

Because it is an open heart surgery that Mulago hospital can usually carry out, Kyarisiima was told the procedure could cost Shs15m.

“The last time I was at Mulago was on July 15, where I was given drugs to stabilise my daughter’s condition. But the hospital has no funds to conduct the surgery so I must look for the money,” Kyarisiima explains.

She adds: “I call on any Good Samaritans to help donate money for my daughter’s surgery. I will be grateful for any small contributions that can be made.” Kyarisiima says Nakintu is her only child at the moment.

Together with her husband, they run a restaurant. “From our business, we have so far raised Shs4 million. But we still need another Shs11m. This is why we are appealing for more support,” she says.