Dr Stefano may be pictured leaning up against these words, but they mean so much more than just paint on a wall.
Miriam is a doctor from Nigeria. She works as general practitioner in the town of Port Harcourt, River State’s capital and largest city. When her daughter, Peace, turned two years old, she began to experience severe convulsions and cyanosis. Peace was hospitalised and diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). The only possible treatment for this heart condition is corrective surgery. Miriam and her husband tried everything they could to find a hospital that could perform Peace’s lifesaving surgery.
First, they tried to arrange a transfer to India, but the process to obtain a visa and travel approval for medical reasons was lengthy and expensive. There was also an opportunity in the city of Enugu with a team of humanitarian doctors, but it never became a reality. In the meantime, Peace was getting weaker and at times her blood oxygen saturation reached as low as 40% – any value below 90% is cause for concern. She began to continually lose consciousness. Miriam ensured Peace that they had an oxygen cylinder at home to support her whenever it was needed.
“We were devastated”, Miriam says. “We didn’t know what else to do. We continued the medication and prayed”.
It was then that Miriam’s husband was informed about the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery’s Regional Programme and the opportunity to have free of charge treatment. EMERGENCY’s medical team assessed Peace and approved her for surgical care. Miriam and Peace arrived at EMERGENCY’s facility on 31 October and she underwent the corrective open-heart surgery on 8 November. She is now doing very well and has recovered fully.
“She is so good that I cannot almost believe it”, adds Miriam. “We can go back home and have a normal life. Peace can go to school.” With tears in her eyes, she continued: “I don’t know how to thank you all for what you have done for my daughter and for our family”. Peace looked at her mother and said: “Mummy, is everything OK? Do you need to get another oxygen cylinder for me when I get home?”. Miriam, with a beautiful smile, told Peace: “No, all is well now, no more cylinders for you. We can go back home to dad and your little sister, Divine. They are waiting for you”.