The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. It is a pump, composed of muscle which pumps blood throughout the body, beating approximately 72 times per minute.
Heartbeat and pumping of blood is controlled by the Circulatory System. In a day, the heart beats 100,000 times, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood. The heart pumps blood which carries all the vital materials which help our bodies function and removes the waste products that are not need.
Unfortunately, some children are born with heart problems, known as congenital heart disease. They occur as a result of malformation of the heart during development in the womb, other children suffer a disease that affects their hearts. This can cause untold distress and pain for both mother and child.
The cost of diagnoses, treatment and very often, surgery can be very expensive for families who have children with heart problems. Some indigent mothers have very often turned to faith healers or traditional medicine in a bid to find the cure for their child’s ailing heart. This has sometimes had disastrous consequences for the child. Some public spirited individuals
and philanthropic organizations have been a God-send in helping to treat children with heart problems free of charge or for a token amount. This humanitarian gesture has helped save the lives of thousands of children in Nigeria.
The Medical Unit of the A. Aruera Reachout Foundation is an example. The Foundation is a non-governmental, not-profit organization established in the 90s by Dame Patience Jonathan when she was the wife of the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. It was set up to positively impact Nigerians, especially the less privileged in society. The Foundation conducts year
round training in vocational, managerial and skills acquisition for Nigerians regardless of age, religion, ethnic group, political affiliation or educational background.
The Medical Unit of the Foundation sponsors the treatment and surgery of children with heart conditions in Nigerian hospitals, including the National Hospital, Abuja. Heart problems that cannot be handled in Nigeria are referred to specialist hospitals abroad. The Unit also partners with the Apollo Hospital in India.
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013 a team of medical doctors from the Apollo Hospital Chinnai, India arrived in the country to conduct a Children’s Clinic for new heart problem cases. They also conducted post-operative checks on children who had undergone surgery in India and had returned to the country.
During the clinic which took place at the A. Aruera Reachout Foundation Haedquarters in Gwarinpa, Abuja, the team was supported by Dr. I. V. Babaniyi, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist of the National Hospital Abuja and Dr Richard Oralu, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital. A total of 86 children were seen at the clinic out of which 70 were diagnosed with heart problems and 34 required urgent surgery. Dr. Muthukumaran who led the team to present the report to the First Lady, Dame Patience in the State House observed that some of the children who were seen required urgent surgery to save their lives. Thanking the team, Dame Patience assured them that she would
continue to offer her support to the less privileged in society. She also disclosed that the state-of-the-art A. Aruera Children’s Heart Hospital under construction will ensure that more people with heart problems benefit from corrective procedures.
Over the years, hundreds of children have benefitted from free heart surgery and treatment from this initiative and are currently in excellent conditions of health. The initiative demonstrates the caring disposition of the First Lady. God has used her to touch the lives of sick children to make them healthy and happy through the appropriate medical intervention.
We hope that many more Nigerians will follow in the footsteps of Dame Patience to help save lives. The Nigerian Heart Foundation, inaugurated in July 1992 and the Kanu Heart Foundation, set up in 21st July 2000 by Nigeria’s International football star, Kanu Nwankwo are also examples of NGOs that are helping to save lives. We must commend them all for being their brother’s keeper.
To all the doctors that help to heal the ailing heart of our children, we say well done and thank you. To Dame Patience Jonathan we say kudos, your name will forever be written in gold in the sands of time for wiping away the tears of sick children. We commend and celebrate your caring heart.
Ms. Joy A. Bello sent this piece in from Lagos
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