Busoga parents celebrate as Jinja hospital performs first-ever pediatric cardiac surgeries

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Busoga parents celebrate as Jinja hospital performs first-ever pediatric cardiac surgeries
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Eight children in total underwent these life-saving procedures between Monday and Wednesday, all performed free of charge. The surgeries were a collaborative effort between the Uganda Heart Institute and Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, marking a significant step towards decentralizing critical heart care services.

There's a wave of relief washing over Busoga. Parents of children with heart disease finally have a reason to smile, thanks to the successful completion of the first-ever pediatric cardiac surgeries at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital.

Amina Nakato, a resident of Kayunga, couldn't hold back her tears of joy. Her child, who has battled stunted growth and health problems since birth, finally has a chance at a healthy life after a successful surgery. Nakato, like many other parents interviewed, had spent a fortune seeking treatment at various facilities, but this free surgery program offered a lifeline.

Jovia Nakiyumba's story is similar. Years of misdiagnosis and treatment for cough and breathing difficulties led to a shocking revelation – her child had a heart condition. Thankfully, a referral to Nalufenya Children's Hospital in Jinja led them to Dr. Tenywa Emmanuel, who diagnosed the heart problem. Now, after a successful surgery, Nakiyumba can finally focus on her child's recovery.

Eight children in total underwent these life-saving procedures between Monday and Wednesday, all performed free of charge. The surgeries were a collaborative effort between the Uganda Heart Institute and Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, marking a significant step towards decentralizing critical heart care services.

Dr. John Omagino, Executive Director of the Uganda Heart Institute, highlighted the alarming number of children born with heart defects in Uganda. With an estimated 16,000 such cases annually, the single-center model at the Uganda Heart Institute is simply overwhelmed. Dr. Omagino emphasized the importance of decentralizing these services and called for collaboration from all stakeholders, including the media, to raise awareness and advocate for wider access to heart care.

Jinja Hospital Director Dr. Alfred Yayi applauded the success of the program, aligning it perfectly with their vision of becoming a regional center of excellence for specialized healthcare in Busoga.

While the exact causes of congenital heart disease remain unclear, Dr. Twalib Atiku, a consultant pediatric cardiologist, pointed to factors like parental smoking, drug use, and environmental hazards as potential contributors.

The success of these surgeries offers a beacon of hope for Busoga families and paves the way for a future where more children with heart disease can receive the specialized care they need, closer to home.

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