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End of Year Giving to Team Heart

All proceeds from this gift will help fund Team Heart to provide cardiac surgery to young adults suffering from rheumatic heart disease in Rwanda, a country that has no surgical options. Team Heart is partnering with the citizens of Rwanda to build an "in country" cardiac surgery program, while developing early detection, prevention and education programs to prevent years of suffering and early deaths due to undiagnosed strep infection.

Please send check made to Team Heart, Inc.
Team Heart, Inc.
75 Francis Street CA-211
Boston, MA 02115

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update from Rwanda

Pictured above from left to right: Cathy Jackson holding Hussein, Megan, Ceeya holding Joshua

Trying to see all patients is hard, they come from far distance, buses are unreliable. A few wish we could visit them and as much as we wish to do so, it is challenging. They all send greetings and well wishes to the team. They seem to remember most "their ICU nurse" and "their stepdown" and "their surgeon". They all remember John Connell, whom showed so much compassion as he pulled lines and liberated them from ICU. I have many messages to return with.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Message from Ceeya in Rwanda

It is Sunday in Kigali, and hot. We spent a lazy morning, due to a wicked jet lag sipping coffee overlooking Kigali. Yes to all who know Rwanda, I was at Bourbon Coffee. (One of Team Hearts favorites spots.) Jennifer, Kathy, and I sat and chatted about how special it was to see Erneste smiling at the airport with Dr. Mucumbitsi. Erneste joined us for dinner.

We met up with the Australian team, admiring the handiwork of Dr. Ian Nichols and team.... normal ups and downs of early ICU, which is why patients need ICU.... Already they have 8 in ward- couple looking close to going home! It was good to see Ali and her team moving competently with incredible compassion.

Today, organizational and planning meetings with the National Council of Nursing, King Faisal Staff...tomorrow Dr. Kaplan arrives-let the fun begin.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Claudine update

Gene Bukhman is back in Rwanda for a few weeks and sends updates from all patients. The small group returning in November is excited to see all of our patients. Gegeon sends photos of Miss Claudine (above) taken recently...ready for school in January. It is amazing to see the difference when your entire body is not using all the energy just to breathe and provide circulation...she is now gaining healthy weight and looks beautiful!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks to Gedeon, a recent update about Genevieve


Gedeon writes:

Hi all, I would like to give some updates on Genevieve a post cardiac surgery patient followed here at Rwinkwavu. She is doing fine, physically comfortable, the left side weakness has resolved at this last examination, and gained weight appropriately. The follow up at home with accompagnator goes well. -Gedeon

Gedeon has been wonderful to send photos of the patients when he sees them and understands how important this is to us. Thank you Gedeon for being part of our team and including us in yours!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When you save a life, you also save the future at the same time.

Pictured above: Erneste Simpunga - 1 year anniversary of surgery at BWH

Dear Friends from Brigham and Women's Hospital,

I say hello to all of you. Today, it's July 29, 2009 where I remember and celebrate one year ago since my heart surgery!! My objective is to thank everybody especially doctors and nurses who have taken part in my life. This is like a thank-you letter and I would like to be clear that it is basically for Team Heart and it's members.

It is so nice for me to share my pleasure with you at this moment. Above all, Let us please get down to our knees and thank God for being with us. Now, allow me thank a lot of Team Heart members for helping me and my country. This team does what according to me, is called miracles. Their work and help is beyond human understanding.

Last year when it was their first trip to Rwanda, they saved 11 cardiac patients with the help of surgery. Now these 11 patients are feeling so much better and some of them have already reached what they dreamt as their performances after their surgeries.

1) Jean Paul is a very good taxi driver!

2) Djuma is one of the best soccer players at his school!

3) Alice is able to work on the farm in order to feed her family as she asked when she woke up after the operation.

4) KARUGANDA Jean Damascene is finishing his high school education this year in November and he will be at University next year! He is dealing with electricity and he has a very huge National examination on November 02, 2009. So pray for him.

5) Celestin GASAMAZA who became the first patient of this team said he will return to his university and get his masters degree and he is getting it at the end of this year!

6) Vedaste says he is again able to do everything he could not perform before. He also says when he drinks, he feels normal whereas before surgery when he tried to drink,he was feeling too tired and also dizzy.

Last April, I was very sick almost to die, Team Heart was so scared of my surgery but they never forgot me. They brought me to the United Sates. Staying with Ceeya and Chip Bolman, for several weeks after, Dr.Ralph Morton Bolman really shown he is the chief of cardiac surgery when he and his team successfully replaced my Mitral and Tricuspid valves! Since that day, my life is 7 times better than before! Thanks a lot.

Now, Erneste is full of beans. I would like to tell everybody that Team Heart really shows that every cloud has a silver lining or every difficult situation has a positive side. Team Heart also shows how life is more interesting! When you save a life, you also save the future at the same time.

I give thank you to:
- Doctors and nurses who were in the operating room with me on July,29,2008
-All nurses who care for me in the ICU and also in the Ward.(Two nurses were the first to take a very good care of me directly when i woke up.These are Kevin and Susan. Thank you so much.

I can not forget to thank:
-Dr.Gene Bukhman
- Dr. Pat Come.
-Amy and Mike (Thank you for being attentive with the use of heart -lung machine)
-Vlad and Louigi, i thank you too.
-Ceeya Bolman.
-Dr.Prem Shekar.
-Suellen (Thanks a lot for your help including your nice pre-operative education)
-Kayla Quin.
-Egidia (Thank you so much as well for a lot of things including translation.)
-Dr.James Rawn.
-Dr. John Connell
and others.

Finally, this is how my life has changed:
1) Now, I have a very regular heart beats. Yesterday, I visited the cardiologists from India at King Faisal Hospital and they were so proud of my heart and it's functions.

2) Gain of 20 kg of muscles. When I came to Boston, my weight was 35 kg(78 pounds) where as right now I have 56 kg(124 pounds)

3) I am strong and energetic. Dr.Bolman said "At the end of November, Erneste, you could'nt hold him down! He rode between 12 and 18 miles." Now I have increased the distance, I ride 80 km within 6 hours and I feel normal.

4) I am back to school! This is my best performance. When I looked at myself the time I was very sick, I never expected to go back to school but now I am back there and the studies became much easier than I think or than before (Here I give a lof of thanks to Ceeya and her husband who pay my school fees and my medical treatments.

5) I am able to deal with every daily activities.

6) When Ceeya, Suellen and Kayla brought me home, they saw a mountain where I used to walk by using 1 hour, but we walked up that mountain and we used 10 minutes.

Thank you so much, I wish you the best and my God bless you.

Youngman from Rwanda, Always proud of you.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jean Damascene's story

In picture, from left to right: Kayla Quin, Jean Habiyamana, John Connell, Jean Damascene, Denise Ricci and Terry Roche

A shy, young man with a large liver and shortness of breath presented through the Butare Medical Center to Partners In Health, the Boston based NGO in April of 2008. Jean, a striking, tall young man, almost gaunt, whom appeared to feel comfortable, spoke in limited English, though he is fluent in both French and Kinyarwandan. Said to be “in school,” his dark, bright eyes quickly assessed everyone in the room anxiously. He watched carefully as our nurse educator taught a younger student and listened intently as she read the pre-operative teaching booklet with the group having surgery. His fear was not of the pain that he might have having cardiac surgery. His fear was he might not be selected to endure that pain.

His parents and siblings were all killed in the genocide in 1994. He had been living in an orphanage since age 3—a very lucky young man. Not only had he had a roof over his head, but he had food as often as they could supply it and was sent to the local school. At sometime in his childhood he most likely had a strep infection, maybe a sore throat. Untreated, he developed rheumatic fever and it progressed to rheumatic heart disease. It wasn’t that anyone ignored his raw throat and fever. But it occurred at a time when medical care in Rwanda was in shambles as they recovered from the effects of the genocide in which less than 400 physicians and 3500 nurses were left to tend to 9 million people.

He was sick, maybe too sick, to do in Rwanda. Discussions about patient selections weighed in on both sides. In his favor, was he was very bright and said to be a good student. He would be able to participate and manage his own care….which would include long-term anticoagulation therapy. If selected, he would be able to return to school, complete it, and be a candidate for college education. Perhaps a teacher to educate others or to work in a business to support himself and a potential family.

With a great deal of relief, he did well through surgery, very well. Convalescence was compromised by the expected post operative heart failure that would take time to improve and time for the liver to return to normal. In retrospect, it is amazing how well he did…..on the day we left, as the other patients lined up outside for photos to be taken, he was missing. Found to be in his bed he was huddled under the covers, sheet over head and sobbing. For two weeks, he had had a staff full of Brigham and Women’s Hospital nurses addressing his ever need—more attention he had had in a life-time. He had completed post operative teaching about the future care and follow-up and what was expected. Much teasing was done about this group of handsome young men and their future. He was not so sure there was a future…still in an orphanage until they pushed him out; no one had time for him to be the center of their universe, as most of us do for our children.

I had reports periodically that he was doing well. He was managing his Coumadin, although he had not shown up for appointments because he had no money for transportation. Money raised to support this aspect was tied up in paper work. His liver was said to be shrinking, his mitral regurgitation decreasing …

On a recent trip to return to Rwanda, I saw a tall, very handsome, still almost gaunt, young man walking down the hall with a smile to light up the universe. One year later, he was doing well and was surviving in a way we find hard to imagine here. For the moment he has a bed to sleep in and sometimes food. He says the governmental support for genocide survivors is delayed so he has been out of school. A quick Western Union transfer got him back in school and food for the month. Discussion ensued about eating as healthy as possible, at least one meal a day, and continuing follow-up care. We talked of plans to send an allowance and forget the paperwork that appeared to be perpetually tied up. As I felt a stab of concern …was he telling me the truth? I felt some faith in the world was a good thing. I asked him about college….he was speechless. He asked if he could call me Mummy.

This young man is an integral part of Rwanda’s future and ought to deserve a chance at success, not merely survival, for himself and his country as much as anyone else. When his college education is completed, he will become a valuable part of country’s future economic growth. An allowance now can provide him access to important benefits that most take for granted, such as healthy food and instructions on how to prepare, mentoring to teach a healthy life style, how to manage a small allowance, lessons that can teach him how to make the most of what he’s been given……and perhaps the knowledge that people really care about what happens to him.

He is one of the patients we have been given the opportunity to work with. You can help.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last patient is discharged!

Hello all!!
To add to the picture show, I've attached a picture of Genevieve OUR LAST PATIENT as she will be discharged TODAY!!!!! She looks great and is walking and smiling.
Thanks everyone for all your hard work... the patients (the results) speak for themselves. It will be amazing to see how they look next year when you visit again....
Special thanks to the KFH staff, doctors, nurses, residents, pharmacists, everyone. They've been very gracious and have done a great job taking care of our patients.
It's been so fun to be a part of this miracle and to end with Genevieve is really poignant.
Thanks again all! Be well and hope to see you soon,
Genevieve is with Dr. Smitha Phillips, Cardiology Fellow from Georgetown, and Dr. Maurice Musoni, medical officer hoping to train in cardiac surgery