Tanzania Mission

April 2013

Save a Child’s Heart completed another monumental medical mission to Tanzania. The teams from the Wolfson Medical Center and the Bugando Medical Center worked tirelessly together for 7 days to screen and operate on as many children as possible.

Medical Mission in Mwanza, Tanzania – A Success!

Save a Child’s Heart completed another monumental medical mission to Tanzania. The teams from the Wolfson Medical Center and the Bugando Medical Center worked tirelessly together for 7 days to screen and operate on as many children as possible.

The cardiac surgical team, whose training in Israel was sponsored by the Australian Pratt Foundation, performed several surgeries on their own, for the first time ever in Tanzania, with the assistance of our team.

The mission was a success, with 15 life saving heart surgeries performed and over 250 children screened.

After the mission, the SACH team of doctors, nurses, technicians, staff and volunteers returned to Israel bringing with them 6 children, who urgently need complicated life saving heart surgery, to be treated at Wolfson Medical Center.

The Tanzanian team will start operating children in Bugando and will keep working in close cooperation with SACH; further team members will take part in the training program at Wolfson and complicated cases will be sent for treatment in Israel.

We wish Dr. Godwin and the Tanzanian team the best of luck.

This mission wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the Blidner Family Foundation, and we would also like to thank Brussels Airlines for sponsoring the flights for this mission.

Daily Report:

Day 1

The Save a Child’s Heart medical team from the Wolfson Medical Center arrived to Mwanza on the morning of Monday, the 21st of October, 2013. The mission was sponsored by the Blidner Family Foundation in cooperation with Brussels Airlines. The first day was dedicated to arranging the medical equipment, setting up the PICU, and starting the cardiology clinic.

When the medical team arrived, there were already dozens of children waiting outside the clinic. They were sitting patiently outside the room, many having traveled hours from various parts of Tanzania, like 10 year old Lomayani, a Massai boy who walked for two days to have his chance at life, and others who came from countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo.

The families were welcomed warmly and enthusiastically by the medical team. One by one they entered the room and were examined by Dr. Raucher together with Dr Naiz, who took part in the SACH training program in Israel for two years. The two cardiologists examined the children for more than three hours and early tomorrow morning they’ll begin again.

The medical team has already scheduled some of the operations for later this week, and a few children are planned to be sent to Israel to undergo heart surgeries.

The mission has attracted media from within Israel and abroad, and media teams from CNN, CCTV, and Israel Channel 2 followed the medical team to Tanzania to document their activities.

It has been a very long and tiring day, but everyone is satisfied and looking forward to a busy week, saving children’s lives.

Day 2

Today was an extremely exciting and busy day. The day began with a warm greeting from the Director of the Bugando Medical Center, Professor Majinge. The Director invited the whole medical team to his office and wished everyone good luck in the coming week. Professor Majinge said he is very grateful to SACH and said that he is incredibly proud of Dr. Godwin and his achievements.

Immediately after this meeting the team went to work; the first open heart surgery was performed by Dr Godwin and the Tanzanian team together with the help of the Israeli SACH team from the Wolfson Medical Center. The girl, Marina, is now recovering in the PICU and the doctors are pleased with her surgery. It was not an easy task. Her heart condition was not simple and the conditions in the Operating Theatre were challenging; the electricity turned off twice and at one point a pump stopped working. But in the end the two teams overcame the difficulties and the surgery ended successfully. In addition to this surgery, 7 year old Shamani and 3 and a half year old Esther were also operated on. All three children are now recovering in the PICU.

The surgeries were performed immediately after the arrival of the medical equipment. More than 60 boxes of medicine and equipment finally made it to Mwanza allowing the operations to begin.

In the Cardiology clinic it was also very busy; 41 children screened, among them 5 children who came all the way from Congo, 4 of them new cases and one follow up and 2 children who travelled from Uganda to be examined by the cardiology team following their operation in Israel two years ago. The parents of the two children from Uganda, 2 and a half year old Gracious and four year old Maria were very excited to meet again the SACH medical team and wanted to know how everyone is doing in Israel. The cardiology team worked from early morning until late in the evening and when it became dark they all worked in the darkness by the light of our mobile phone flashlights.

Included in the many follow up patients was a boy named Julius. Julius and his father Bernard were welcomed by the medical team with a lot of excitement and happiness. Everyone hugged Julius, who looked very healthy and happy and Bernard was delighted. To add to all the excitement and happiness, the echo examination showed that Julius’s heart is healing very well and at this point he doesn’t need another surgery. This came as a big surprise as the doctors were sure he will need another treatment. Bernard, however, was not surprised and told us this amazing story: Last August Julius woke up one morning, came to his father and told him: Father, I am cured! Bernard asked Julius what happened and how was he cured and Julius told him that god came at night, touched his heart and cured it. Bernard smiled to himself and sent Julius to school. Later that day, when Bernard wanted to give Julius his daily medicine Julius said that he doesn’t need the medicine anymore because his heart now is healed. Bernard of course told him to take it but after taking the medicine Julius threw it all up. From that point Bernard noticed that Julius is indeed feeling better and began believing that his child was cured. He even wrote the SACH doctors an email telling them this story and the team asked that Bernard bring Julius to be examined in this mission. The results of the echo shocked the team and made everyone very, very happy!

Among the many children waiting to be screened today was 4 year old Juma from Tanzania. He was waiting with his parents outside the echo room when he suddenly became very blue and collapsed. All the doctors rushed to assist him, and Juma was then stabilized and taken to the PICU. Juma will be undergoing an emergency life saving heart surgery first thing tomorrow morning.

Day 3

Another early day. The team left to the hospital at 6:30am and immediately began a round at the PICU where the three children from yesterday were recovering nicely. Little Marina, the first open heart surgery of the mission, ate her first Bamba today and is already feeling much better. Today’s first surgery was little Juma, who collapsed yesterday in the cardiology clinic. His operation was a complicated one and very hard for the teams, but after five hours of hard work the surgery ended successfully and little Juma is now recovering in the PICU with the others.

The second surgery was a 2 year old named Elias and the third one a 10 month old named Derick.

In the clinic many children and families were waiting for their examination and Dr Alona, together with Dr. Naiz and Nava, began working with full speed early in the morning, hoping to screen as many children as possible today. One of the first children screened today was 13 year old Maria. Maria is a wonderful girl who smiles all the time. She has a congenital heart disease and will be operated on in the next few days. When we asked her what her hobbies were she stood up and started to sing. Everyone in the room stopped working and listened to her sing, it was just beautiful! Mira Awad, World Music singer, songwriter, actress and Save a Child’s Heart goodwill ambassador, immediately joined Maria and they sang together. Maria was very excited about this!

Another child who was welcomed with a lot of excitement was Laurencia Simon. Laurencia was the FIRST child who was operated on two years ago during the first SACH medical mission to the Bugando Medical Center. Two years ago Laurencia was filmed by the documentary film crew and today they filmed her echo and went home with her to see how she runs around and plays with her friends. Laurencia looked wonderful. She grew up beautifully and looks full of energy. She is now seven years old, goes to school, and is a very good student. She plays with her friends and has no limitations whatsoever.

The last box of medical equipment finally arrived today after being lost in Nairobi on the way. Now all the 100 boxes are with us, and this is thanks to the hard work of SACH Executive Director, Simon Fisher, who stayed behind in Nairobi making sure all the boxes were taken and sent to Mwanza and of Nir Katz, from the Wolfson Medical Center and Sarah Nevo, SACH Office Manager, who assisted with this hard work.

In total three children were operated on today and 49 children screened. Since the beginning of the mission 100 children were screened (including the post surgery patients) and six children were operated on.

Day 4

Thursday October 24 began with a doctor’s round to see how all the post surgery children were doing. Marina, the first child who underwent open heart surgery by Dr Godwin and his team was removed to the ward and is doing very well. Juma, who collapsed on the first day and had an emergence life saving surgery in the second day is awake and smiling, and all the other children are also doing well and the doctors are pleased with their recovery.

Before starting the first operation today the team went to all of the children and handed out lollipops. All the children and mothers were happy about this -– a sweet beginning to a long day…

The first child screened at the clinic today was a 7 year old, Happy, the 100th child to be screened since we arrived in Tanzania! After Happy many other children were screened, among them many follow up children. One of the follow up children was 10 year old Elvin. Elvin was operated on in the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel and during his interview he sat quietly. When we mentioned to him the name Laura his face lit and smiled the biggest smile you ever seen. Elvin asked to send Laura a special kiss from him and said he misses her and the SACH team very much.

The first child operated on today was 2 years old Flava, and the second was 10 year old Joel Lamayani. Joel is a Massai boy and is here with his English speaking mother and with his father. Joel’s most favorite thing is playing football and doing arts and crafts. Joel’s father said that they are really looking forward to his son’s recovery; he said that Joel loves helping him in the farm but after a few minutes he gets very tired and can’t do anything. After the surgery Joel’s father hopes that his son will be able to work with him in the farm.

The third surgery today was 3 years old Shaban Aisha.

The media teams accompanying our mission were also very busy today. The documentary film crew travelled all the way to Laurencia Simon’s village to see how she is doing. Laurencia was the first child operated on in the SACH medical mission to Tanzania two years ago. They travelled for two hours in a car, three hours with a ferry and another four hours driving to find her playing with her friends, fishing with her father and looking as healthy as possible.

The Channel 2 reporters also captured Marina, the first child to be operated on by Dr Godwin and his team during this mission, get off her bed and make a few steps. Marina’s journey and operation was documented by the channel 2 team and the whole story of the SACH mission will be edited and broadcasted next week.

The day ended very late. In total three children were operated on today and 33 screened. From the beginning of the mission 9 children were operated and over 130 screened.

Day 5

The day began with a lot of excitement as the whole medical team, together with its Bugando partners, got together at the entrance of the hospital for a group photo. Everyone warmly hugged and greeted each other, proud of the days that have passed and excited for upcoming work.

The teams then began their usual routine; a round at the PICU to see how the children from the past operations were recovering, and immediately after that the operating room began preparing the operation of beautiful Zainabu, a 7 year- old girl from a small village in Tanzania.

Dr. Raucher, Dr. Naiz, and Nava eagerly opened their cardiology clinic, welcoming the patiently awaiting children and families.

The day was very emotional, as 5 follow-up children came into the clinic glowing and excited to show the doctors how healthy and lively they were, compared to the first time the doctors saw them before undergoing heart surgery. The children were amazingly grateful to the team in Israel and in Tanzania for providing them a new opportunity at life.

Sampson, a 20 year old young adult, was one of the children operated on in the Wolfson Medical Center, in Israel 3 years ago. Before the operation he was weak and had no hope for the future. He told us that the operation not only restored his heart, but also gave him faith in life, and the ambition to achieve his dreams. He is now enrolled in an apprenticeship course to become an electrician, with goals to later create his own business to support his current and future family.

Another exciting moment was when smiling Grace came into the room, a year and a half after her surgery in Israel, showing a full recovery. She, along with many of the other children, has fond memories from the children’s house in Holon, remembering especially Laura, who she looked forward to playing with. She is dreaming of becoming a doctor.

Overall, it was another productive day… 3 successful surgeries, 35 children examined in the clinic, and 4 more in the intermediate room. The recoveries of the patients are also going well, and some of them are expected to go home tomorrow. Also Marina, who was the first child to have open heart surgery on this mission, was able to walk and laugh for the first time today since the surgery which made us all very happy. She is expected to leave the hospital tomorrow.

In the evening the team had a Shabbat dinner together, and preformed a Kidush around the dinner table with red wine and local “Chala bread” bought in Mwanza. It was a very special evening.

Day 6

Another day began with a round in the PICU, to see how all the children are recovering. The round made the team very happy, as they saw some of the children already smiling and walking. It was especially exciting to see Juma, the team’s most complicated case, who was energetic and lively.

As the clinic continued as usual, the first operation of the day began and it was very monumental as Tanzania’s vice President, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilali, joined Theresia Ramadan’s operation, to see Bugando’s operating team working solo without any help from the Israeli team. Dr. Godwin explained to the vice President and his colleagues the process of the open-heart surgery and the special instruments donated to Bugando from Israel. Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilali was very impressed, and mentioned that he had never seen something like that before. He looks forward to strengthening a future partnership with SACH.

The day was very interesting, as the hospital celebrated “Bugando Day”, and the new Oncological Department was unveiled. The vice President, the Minister of Health, the Deputy of Barak (the biggest mining company in Tanzania), and the entire hospital staff attended the unveiling, making it a crowd of around 400 people. In between speeches, there was authentic folk music, local traditional dancers, and an extensive buffet to top off the afternoon, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The hospital used the special event to thank Israel, SACH, and the Wolfson Medical Center. They also invited executive director Simon Fisher and Dr. Siv- Ner to speak about the medical mission and the future of Bugando in partnership with SACH. It was a very touching, motivating, and well received speech.

In the clinic we met with 3 more follow- up children; Neema Lukas, Simon Kenya and Shemsa Naimtima, who all just recently returned home after their operations in Israel.

Simon is a handsome 9 year boy who had his operation in December 2012. He told us that now he is finally able to go to school and study, as before the operation he was too often sick and tired to go. Now that he’s back, he has dreams of becoming a Math teacher! When asked about Israel, he told us how much fun he had with Sarah and Laura, and would like to go back to visit whenever possible.

Overall, 2 children were successfully operated on today, Theresia, and Mary Elyakim. Tomorrow, the team will embark on their final operation.

Tonight we had a wonderful dinner in a restaurant right on Lake Victoria, with a beautiful view, and great food, and spectacular company. Both teams, the Israeli SACH and some members of Bugando’s hospital, cheered together for the success of the past few days, and for future work together. It was a great ending to a great day.

Day 7

This morning started on a high note, as the 16 children recovering from this week’s heart surgeries in the PICU and the Inter ICU room got together with the SACH team and their families to take a group photo. It was impossible to not smile when looking at all the happy and healthy faces.

Everyone was in bliss watching the transformation of these children, and seeing the physical evidence of yet another successful medical mission. Juma was running, Marina was smiling, and all the children and their families were glowing.

After the group photo, 6 year old Abdalla Khamis Kumalija, entered the operating room, and under the hands of Dr. Godwin, had a successful surgery and is currently recovering in the PICU. Abdalla was the last to be operated in during the SACH mission, and was a nice ending, adding the total operation count to 15. 250 children were screened during this mission.

While the day was a half one, as the team is preparing to pack up for their departure tomorrow, we had a great visit from 6 year old follow – up patient, Fazili Issa, who had his surgery in 2008 in Israel. He and his family are so excited for him to start school this January, and are very thankful for the dedicated care they got from SACH. Fazili loves football, is an Arsenal fan, and wants to be a doctor when he grows up so he can take care of his family.

After packing up our belongings in the ward, the SACH team joined the local team for an authentic fish dinner with the director of Bugando Medical Center Dr. Mahalu. He toasted to the group on this year’s successful mission, and the progression in which it’s grown since previous years. He, along with the rest of the SACH team are looking forward to the years to come, progressing the level of Bugando and strengthening its partnership.

Overall, all team members are departing with fond memories, strong friendships, and with motivation to continue the wonderful partnership between the Bugando Medical Center in Tanzania and the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel.