By John Agaba
Only sh10m stand between seven-month-old Nerima Blessing and life. The little girl was diagnosed with two holes in her heart and if she does not get good Samaritans to help contribute sh10m to transport her to India for an overdue operation, she might actually die — only sh10m shillings that you perhaps earn in a month.
She lies at the Mulago Heart Institute where she has been bedridden for the last one-and-a-half months now, with her mother, Jenipher Turyahikayo, at her bedside, helplessly looking on, not sure if a miracle is going to happen and they will get the sh10m they need to transport them to India.
“We first came to the hospital on 5th September,” says the girl’s father, Benon Mayende. “At first she was screened for cancer because we didn’t know what was wrong with her.”
“But all tests showed that she didn’t have cancer,” he adds.
They were then referred to the Heart Institute. And there it was – the last piece of news the couple would hope to hear. Their baby, their last born, little Nerima, was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septa Defect (VSD) by Dr. Peter Lwabi, a consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at the Institute.
“The doctor explained to us that she had two holes in the wall between her right and left ventricles of her heart,” says Mayende.
“He said that as a result oxygenated blood was starting to mix with the deoxygenated blood and that if she was not attended to urgently it could cause clots and even heart failure.”
Following the diagnosis, Dr. Craig Sable, the managing director Echocardiography and Telemedicine at the Children’s National Medical Center, Washington DC, recommended her for surgery.
“We didn’t know what next to do,” says Mayende. “She had been referred to India. And we didn’t have any money. Her mother started crying. And I didn’t know what to do,” recollects Mayende.
Two weeks at the institute, they were discharged, without the holes sealed. They had no choice but to go home.
It was while they were here, at home, that the couple learnt of the Indian Association in Uganda. And that it could actually sponsor their daughter’s heart procedure in India.
“It was in the evening,” recollects Mayende, “when I got a phone call from a friend telling me about the Indian Association that they sponsor heart surgeries to be performed in India.”
“I asked him how they could sponsor my daughter’s surgery. And he told me that I would pick application forms from their offices. I could not wait for day break,” he says.
“The next day I came to Kampala and applied. And prayed that God helps me and my child is selected.”
Well, God must have heard his prayer. Nerima was selected, together with another nine heart patients from Uganda, totaling ten, to be taken to India for heart surgeries.
But the good news could only last. The Indian Association would only take care of the surgery, the procedure, it would not foot the patient’s transportation costs to and from India as well as accommodation and transport costs for the baby’s care taker while in India, about sh10m that Mayende does not have.
“We have tried to look for money to transport her and the person who will be taking care of her. But we have failed,” he says. “We don’t have any coin. Any money that we had we have spent in hospital already. Many people have helped us. But, still, we can’t raise 10m,” he says resignedly.
So far, they have been able to raise shs800, 000 towards the expenses and are now counting on well-wishers including you reading this to help raise more money to save their baby’s life.
The baby is set to be taken to India on November 12.
The parents have opened a bank account number 9030007434935 at Stanbic Bank City Branch in the names of Nerima Blessing. They are seeking public assistance. Contributions can also be sent to 0783700444 or 0783931715 (Mayende’s Phone contact) via mobile money.