17-year old Purity Chelimo from Kitale, Kenya, had been sick for fully half of her young life. Since age nine, she had suffered from tuberculosis as well as from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). So last autumn when Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) launched its nationwide cardiac surgery program, implemented by A&K Global Health, Purity’s family – with current NHIF membership and good financial standing – was quick to have Purity screened for medical eligibility for the surgical initiative.
The good news? Purity qualified as a surgery candidate. The bad news? Her case was direr than her family had realized. Eight years of struggle with RHD had taken its toll: at the time of Purity’s childhood diagnosis, only one heart valve was affected by her disease. Now her cardiologist confirmed that three valves were impacted. Purity needed two valve replacements and one valve repair, a complex cardiac surgery…and she needed it quickly.
She was pushed to the top of the surgery waitlist, and just in time. In December 2016, Purity was rushed to Nairobi’s Karen Hospital in heart failure. She was admitted directly to the ICU for stabilization before she could be scheduled for surgery. Her case would now be considered high risk, due to the complication of heart failure as she waited for treatment.
Even her ominous health circumstances failed to distract this tenacious young woman from her goals. “When we [the A&K Global Health team] spoke to Purity in the ICU, she looked frail, but was very optimistic about her oncoming surgery,” said Eva Gulavi, A&K Global Health Public Relations and Communications Officer. “She said ‘I want this to be over as soon as possible so I can go back home and go back to school, because I will be a candidate for my final secondary examination in 2017.’”
Purity’s father, Joel Talam, admitted that he was very worried as he waited for what felt like an eternity for his daughter to wake up following surgery. But with her procedure successfully completed, he announced, “I am very happy that my daughter is recovering well. This was truly a miracle, and I’m grateful to A&K Global Health and NHIF for supporting my daughter through her cardiac treatment.”
About six weeks after Purity’s surgery, Mr. Talam visited his local A&K Global Health branch office in El Doret to relay his continued gratitude and appreciation. “Mr. Talam was very happy and thankful for the great work A&K Global Health is doing to help patients like his daughter access life-saving treatment,” said Cornelius Rop, El Doret Operations Officer.
“I have been searching for funds [for Purity’s surgery] for the past three years, but in vain,” Mr. Talam continued. “Today I can afford a smile, because through NHIF and the facilitation of A&K Global Health, my daughter underwent a successful surgery right here in Kenya at Karen.”
In the photograph above: Purity and her father, Joel Talam, during her recovery at The Karen Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
In the photograph below: Purity Chelimo in the ICU before her surgery at The Karen Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.