A bad heart condition has caused her body to swell

Thursday August 4 2011

A bad heart condition has caused her body to swell

In pain: The swelling has been caused by a heart problem that allows blood that should go to the body to recirculate through the lungs. PHOTO BY SARAH TUMWEBAZE. 

By Sarah Tumwebaze

For 48 years, Ms Donata Muhereza a mother of three and a medical health worker has been living a normal life. Besides the side effects she has been getting from high blood pressure and diabetes which she got eight years ago, she had not gotten any serious complications until 2010.

In November last year, she started swelling. “My whole body became heavy and I acquired a square form because I was swollen from head to toe. I was also experiencing difficulty in breathing as if something was blocking my lungs and I was coughing profusely.”

Although she had ascertained that she had diabetes and hypertension, these signs prompted her to go back for other tests of the same condition whose results came out positive.

With no other new condition to treat, the doctors in Mbarara where she resides put her on cough tablets to help deal with the coughing. However, the swelling was worsening by the day. She explains that at some point, the doctors thought she had gotten an allergy from pneumonia but this too was proved wrong after the tests.

In February 2011, she decided to come to Kampala for more tests. “I went to Kampala Medical Chambers and the doctor there told me to continue taking my diabetes medication but also advised me to go for liver, kidney and urinary tests,” she says. “I took the tests on Monday. But by the time I received the results on Friday, the swelling had worsened and you could not differentiate my eyes from the cheeks and I had no appetite,”she adds.

The results came back negative. When she went back to the doctor, he put her on lasix medication which is meant to drain water from her body and this reduced the swelling.

But he also advised her to go for a heart check-up. When she took the test in March, the results showed that she had Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

According to Dr John Omagino, a consultant surgeon and also the director of the Uganda Heart Institute, PDA is a heart problem that is usually noted in the first few weeks or months after birth. It is characterised by a connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery which allows blood that should go to the body to re-circulate through the lungs.

He explains that all babies are born with this connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. “But under normal circumstances, within the first few days or weeks after birth, the ductus arteriosus closes and blood no longer passes through lungs. However, in some babies, the ductus arteriosus remains open leading to a PDA. The opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery allows blood to pass back through the blood vessels in the lungs,” he says.

The medical health worker explains that when she was introduced to a consultant cardiologist also at Mulago Referral Hospital, he said that “I was lucky to have lived with this condition up to this stage especially when I have diabetes and hypertension.”

The cardiologist advised her to have the operation in India since she had other two complications. A letter from Dr Vivek Jawali of Fortis Hospital India where Ms Muhereza is supposed to have the operations from advised, “We would agree that her PDA should be closed at an early date to avoid endocarditic (inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves) and Pulmonary Hypertension(PH), increase in blood pressure in the lung vasculature, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting.”

Ms Muhereza was supposed to have had this operation before the end of July but because of limited funds, she was not able.

“I am supposed to raise US$16,200 (Shs42,120,000) for the operation, seven days I will spend at the hospital plus the facilitation for my caretaker. But at the moment, I only have Shs16m which I raised by selling my car and contributions from my relatives. I’m appealing to anyone who can help me to contribute towards my treatment because I know that when I go to India, I will be fine,”she appeals.

At the moment, Muhereza is experiencing the side effects of not having the operation soon because the single daily dosage of lasix has failed to drain water from her body and this has forced her doctor to put her on two tablets a day which he says if taken for a long time, can lead to complications like addiction, liver and kidney failure.

Ms Muhereza can be contacted on 0772575781, 0782545888 all connected to mobile money and in case of any contribution, it can be deposited on KCB Mbarara branch, Acc No. 0341920113146, Acc name Muhereza Donata or to Stanbic Bank, Ntinda Branch, Acc No 0121007701501, Acc name, Rosette Muhoozi.