Seven Years of World-Class Cardiac Care in Africa

On April 19, 2007 EMERGENCY celebrated the inauguration of the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan. Located in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the Salam Centre is presently the only specialized and free-of-charge facility in an area of 11.5 million square kilometers (three times the size of Europe) with a population of over 300 million people.

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Young patient and local staff at Salam Center

At the hearth of EMERGENCY’s African Regional Program, an initiative to improve, strengthen and foster peaceful relationships between the countries involved through reciprocal cooperation in the public health field, the Salam Center was originally designed to treat patients from Sudan’s nine neighboring countries, but has now developed an international network that reaches over 20 countries.

In many cases the patients are referred directly to the Salam Center by medical institutions and organizations operating in countries where no service is available. Whenever needed, EMERGENCY provides free transportation for foreign patients to and from the Salam Center. In agreement with the Sudanese Health Authorities, patients coming from abroad are entitled to receive all services free of charge. For any patient operated on at the Salam Center, EMERGENCY guarantees long-term follow-up and medications as needed.

This was the case for Marhja, who traveled from Bangui in Central African Republic to Karthoum to receive treatment. She  was 45 years old when she arrived and had been diagnosed as having poorly functioning mitral valves at 30 years old. For a few years the disease allowed her a normal life: looking for work, looking after her seven children, planning to leave her country to find treatment.

Staff and patient at the Salam Center

Staff and patient at the Salam Center

One day, however, her breathlessness became continuous and extremely oppressive. When she arrived at the Bangui Hospital with her youngest child: the doctor confirmed the worsening of her condition and the necessity for a surgical intervention. “Go to Egypt”, advised the doctor, but for Marhja it was financially impossible.

No family or friends could help cover the high costs. Not even her husband, a taxi driver, who worked day and night to put aside a bit of money, but spent all the extra money on medicines necessary to relive his wife’s suffering. It appeared that Marhja had no real future.

One day, however, out of the blue, the cardiologist at the Bangui hospital communicated to Mahja that thanks to a collaboration between the hospital and an International NGO, her operation would be done. She arrived in Khartoum by plane, at EMERGENCY expenses, and her valve was finally replaced. Since then she has fully recovered.

Marhja like many others – you can read their stories here – received a chance at a new life thanks to the Salam Center, the incredible and capable doctors and staff, and your kind donations. EMERGENCY and the Salam Center, however, still need your help to top-of-the-line cardiac surgery free of charge in Africa. Please consider making a donation now to reach our goal of $50,000 and help save another life. Click here to make a donation, we are more than half way to our goal!

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