Health & Living
One-year-old with a hole in the heart needs Shs13m for surgery
Posted Thursday, March 7 2013 at 00:00
Diana Atim’s one-year-old has a hole in the heart and urgently needs surgery worth Shs14m, of which the single mother has managed to raise only Shs1m.
Titus Kahima turned one year in February, but instead of celebrating the first year of her son’s life, his mother, Diana Atim was busy chasing a billing form from Mulago Heart Institute. Kahima, who had been diagnosed with congenital heart disease at five months, was getting worse and rather than sit and wait, she wanted an estimate of how much she would need for the surgery to correct the problem.
The bill for an open heart surgery at Mulago came to Shs14m, an amount the 23-year-old single mother cannot even imagine raising. “I do not have that money,” she says fighting back tears. Her family is not in a position to help and she says she cannot look up the boy’s father. He is aware of the son’s illness but has not responded. Atim says she only has Shs1m given to her by Venom Discotheque, where she works as a cashier.
The Echo report (Echo cardiogram report) from the Heart Institute dated July 18, 2012 says Kahima has large perimembranous VSD. A doctor at the institute describes this as a hole in the heart. He also says if the child has been deemed to need surgery then it is urgent. Atim says her son has been unable to develop like other children his age. “At eight months, he could not even lift his limbs.” Kahima, who at one year is just trying to crawl, cries a lot, and though he feeds normally, he is almost always short of breath. “He cannot speak because he is still an infant, but you can see he is really uncomfortable. He rarely laughs or plays. It gets worse at night,” Atim says.
Although congenital heart defects occur during fetal formation in the womb and therefore Kahima must have been born with the hole in the heart, Atim says he looked normal at birth.
However, she recalls her mother expressing concern about the baby’s breathing. “She even called a friend but the friend said that there was nothing to worry about,” says Atim.
Discovering the problem
Three months later, Atim noticed that the child’s breathing was strained. Despite her best efforts to breastfeed him, he was consistently losing weight. She also noticed that his heartbeat was much faster than hers. When she voiced these concerns to the doctor at a clinic in Nsambya, she was assured that it is normal for infants at that age to breathe like that and have fast heartbeats.
“I went back home relaxed, knowing that it would all pass,” she says. It did not. If anything, she says her son’s condition deteriorated, and he was barely sleeping at night. When he was five months old, Atim took Kahima to Kibuli hospital where a paediatrician recognised his symptoms as those of congenital heart disease. “She referred me to Mulago heart institute for an Echo scan and I have been going there ever since,” says Atim.
Her son’s illness has taken a toll on her finances. Each consultation at the heart institute sets her back by Shs30,000. On average she will make two such trips in a month. Though she gets the tablets he is currently taking for free, she has to meet the medical bill for any other illnesses her son may get, and he falls ill a lot. “All the money I work for goes into his medical bills. All I want to do is save my son,” she says.
She appeals to well-wishers as she sees no other hope to save her son.
To Help: Deposit money on account number 1035100689294, Account name - Diana Atim, Equity Bank. Phone number: 0703462091