Rheumatic Fever in Sudan


“Fatooma was discharged from our Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan a few days ago. Before leaving the hospital, she took the box of colored pens and the sheets of paper that we’d given her, and carefully put them in her “suitcase”. The smile on her face was full of hope.


When she came to us, her heart was beating so fast that it seemed to want to leap out of her chest. It was too late to try any pharmacological treatment: she’d been suffering from a strep throat that had been gradually damaging her heart as well, to the extent of destroying the valves. All this was caused by a rheumatic fever – an illness that strikes approximately 5 per 100,000 children in the United States, and can easily be cured. But in these countries, in the grip of poverty and war, it affects up to 100 people in 100,000, especially children between the ages of 5 and 15. All this because nobody had given her antibiotics; and yet just a simple pill would have been enough to prevent all this damage.


Luckily, with a surgical operation we were able to repair her heart valve without having to replace it with a mechanical one. So Fatooma can now go back to her home in West Darfur, grow up healthy, go to school, and stay with her parents.”


–Daniela, EMERGENCY NGO cardiologist in Sudan

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