Sara, a ten-month-old child of a single mother residing in Enugu State, was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), a congenital heart defect often referred to as a “hole in the heart,” when she was just three months old. This defect, an abnormal opening in the wall separating the heart’s main pumping chambers (the ventricles), has led to health issues including weight loss, heavy breathing, and fatigue.
Fortunately, during our Medical Mission in October/November 2023, Sara underwent open heart surgery to correct her heart defect. Now, at ten months old, she has a renewed chance at a healthy, long life.
Sara represents just one of the millions of children in Nigeria suffering from VSD. In Nigeria, 35% of deaths are attributed to cardiovascular diseases. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality, making it the most common cardiovascular disease in children. Despite increasing awareness and the availability and use of diagnostic facilities, access to definitive surgery remains poor, highlighting the urgent need for affordable surgical facilities in the country.
The Sir Emeka Okwuosa Foundation, in partnership with the VOOM Foundation, hosts a biannual medical mission. This initiative involves bringing doctors from the United States to perform open heart surgeries for Nigeria’s underserved population. Utilising the Dame Irene Okwuosa Memorial Hospital (DIOMH) facility in Oraifite, Anambra State, we have successfully conducted 69 Open Heart Surgeries for adults and children, valued at over $213,000. The primary objective of the Sir Emeka Okwuosa Foundation is to reduce the suffering of the most vulnerable and create a meaningful impact.
Through the Medical Mission, the SEOF aims to address urgent cardiovascular medical needs for five children by providing free Open Heart Surgeries, postoperative treatment, and education for local health staff to tackle Nigeria’s cardiovascular issue. Treating these children will significantly contribute to addressing the heart diseases affecting millions of Nigerians.