Hanan is a 13 year-old orphan from Kibre Mengist in the north Oromia, 280 miles from Addis Ababa. She and her two younger sisters live with their 24 year-old unmarried uncle, ShewaAli, a construction worker. Their father died repelling the Eritrean invasion 11 years ago, and their mom died of tuberculosis 4 years ago.
Her uncle and guardian was also an orphan by age 11, raised by his grandmother. He worked as a laborer every day after school to support his family. He is now the devoted guardian of Hanan and her siblings. He told us: “I believe in God. I can’t abandon my sister’s children.”
Hanan finished 3rd grade at the top of her class; she loved school, playing jump rope, and Akukulu (Ethiopian hide-and-seek) with her sisters. Two years ago, however, everything changed: she became increasingly fatigued and stopped going to school, unable to make the 20-minute walk. She stopped observing the Moslem fast of Ramadan because of her weakness. Her personality changed – she was happy before, but after, she stopped smiling and angered easily. Doctors at the university hospital recommended surgery, but were unable to help. Someone referred her to us, and Dr. Rick diagnosed tight mitral stenosis (an area of .6 cm2 – normal is 4 cm2).
This September, we sent Hanan along with a group of 17 cardiac patients to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Cochin, India, where the cardiac team performed a successful balloon procedure to open her valve. Her valve area has more than doubled. She is filled with energy. She is now back home. She has a big smile on her face, and told us: “I feel great!” Hanan is excited to go back to school to pursue her dream of becoming a cardiologist.
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