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Ugandan children doing well after heart surgery at PCMH

Dr. Theodore Koutlas, left, physician assistant Armond Morace, right, and nurse anethetist Nancy Roberson, center, operate on one of two Ugandan children who had open-heart surgery Tuesday at PCMH. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Apr. 30, 2004)   —   Two children from Uganda are recovering well after open-heart surgery this week at Pitt County Memorial Hospital to repair congenital heart defects.

“Both surgeries went well,” said Sharon Welsh, pediatric cardiac nurse clinician at Children’s Hospital of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina. “We’re very pleased with their progress and expect them to be discharged from the hospital over the weekend.”

Eight-year-old Eddie Lubega and 11-year-old Amina Naluyinda arrived in Greenville in mid-April with their mothers and an interpreter for the life-saving heart surgery unavailable in their country, courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. The surgeries were performed Tuesday at PCMH.

Physicians anticipate the girl and boy could be discharged from PCMH over the weekend. After discharge, they will remain in Greenville for the next four weeks with host families from Oakmont Baptist Church so doctors can monitor their recoveries before making the long flight back to Uganda, a republic in eastern Africa with a population of approximately 26 million.

Dr. Theodore Koutlas, an ECU pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, performed both surgeries. Both children were diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect causing a hole between the ventricles and a blockage of blood flow to the lungs making the patients have blue discoloration.

For both children, Koutlas patched the holes in their hearts and removed the obstruction to allow normal blood flow through their hearts.

Dr. Charlie Sang, a pediatric cardiologist with ECU, performed the pre-surgery medical evaluations of the children. Both children required a full dental exam and rehabilitation before surgery to prevent infectious complications post-surgery. Drs. Jasper Lewis and Lee Lewis of Greenville provided this dental care.

According to the Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project, Eddie lives with his parents, two brothers and two sisters in Kayirikiti in the Masaka district. Both of his parents are teachers, and Eddie is in kindergarten. Because of his congenital heart defect, Eddie was easily exhausted. Eddie’s mother, Immaculate Nassiwa, accompanied him to Greenville.

Amina is in fifth grade at the Nalukola Primary School and lives with her mother and four siblings in Kalisizo Town in the Rakai district, according to the Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project. Like Eddie, she was easily exhausted because of her condition. Amina’s mother, Ruth Nantume, came with her to Greenville for her surgery. Marian Murerwa is the interpreter for the children and their mothers.

Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project identifies children who need care and matches them with hospitals and surgeons in the United States and Canada who are willing to donate their time and services. Eddie and Amina are the ninth and 10th children operated on at PCMH through the Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project.

Samaritan’s Purse also arranged for Oakmont Baptist Church and a local family to host the children during their recovery period in the United States.

Since 1997, Samaritan’s Purse has brought more than 225 children with life-threatening heart defects to the United States from Bosnia, Mongolia, Kosovo and Uganda. The program expanded into Central America earlier this year, when the first children from Honduras arrived in the United States for surgery.


Contact: Jeannine Hutson | 252-744-2481