UGANDAN BOY GETS LIFE SAVING SURGERY
Like many cardiac patients, Freddy requires lifesaving surgery. The difference is that Freddy is only ten years old and is growing up in rural Uganda, one of the poorest communities in the world. Fortunately, the persistence of a number of individuals and organizations has fast‐tracked Freddy’s case and increased his chances of survival.
Acting as an advocate for Freddy, UBC medical student Prabhroop Kaur Sidhu collaborated the efforts of a number of local and international organizations. “I questioned why as a society we have allowed it to be normal and justifiable to accept a preventable death just because of someone’s birth location. If we have the means and the innovative technology to save lives, why not share these resources?” After many long‐distance phone calls and convincing emails, Freddy is now in stable condition and awaiting surgery.
Sidhu worked with Sawa Leaders, Dr. Robert and Musawo James Sewanyana at their health clinic ACCESS. It was there, during a UBC and ACCESS sponsored free community health day that the severity of Freddy’s cardiac condition became apparent. Lack of funding aside, Freddy’s situation is unique. His heart condition is complex and the Ugandan Heart Institute is simply not equipped with the expertise, training or the equipment to provide a long-term solution. Sidhu felt compelled to help, “We were told by the cardiologist that he needed to be taken somewhere else for surgery, such as India, South Africa or the United States.” You can watch a video of Freddy and his journey at the Sawa World website created by a former Sawa Youth Reporter.
Thanks to all the hard work and persistence of a number of organizations, Freddy has been fully accepted for surgery in Italy. Many individuals and organizations have been involved throughout this process, particularly Musawo James and the ACCESS team in Uganda, cardiologists at Mulago Hospital and Gift of Life International.
“This whole experience has allowed Freddy to dream big. He told James that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up.” Sidhu said, “Being just 10 years old, he will have time to pursue that dream, and many others hopefully. I know we are all hoping and praying for the best. The next step is to ensure he is healthy and well, as travel preparations are made.”