Dr Stefano may be pictured leaning up against these words, but they mean so much more than just paint on a wall.
“Fatooma was discharged from our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan a few days ago. Before leaving the hospital, she took the box of coloured pens and the sheets of paper that we’d given her, and carefully put them in her ‘suitcase’. The smile on her face was full of hope.”
“When she came to us, her heart was beating so fast that it seemed to want to leap out of her chest. It was too late to try any pharmacological treatment: she had been suffering from strep throat which had also gradually been damaging her heart as well, destroying the valves. All this was caused by a rheumatic fever – an illness that affects less than 1 in 100,000 people in the USA, and can easily be cured. But in these countries, in the grip of poverty and war, it affects up to 100 in every 100,000 people, especially children between the ages of 5 and 15. All this because nobody had given her antibiotics; and yet just a simple pill would have been enough to prevent all this damage.”
“Luckily, with a surgical operation we were able to repair her heart valve without having to replace it with a mechanical one. Fatooma can now go back to her home in West Darfur, grow up healthy, go to school, and stay with her parents.”
“I can’t help thinking of all those in Italy who ask me “how come there is an EMERGENCY hospital that practices heart surgery? Weren’t you an organisation for war victims?”
“But being 8 years old and having to have your chest opened up in order to repair a heart valve – isn’t that war? Not having the right to free healthcare – isn’t that a result of war? Where does this absence of rights come from, if not from the war?”
–Daniela, EMERGENCY NGO cardiologist in Sudan