Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery

The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery

The Salam Centre is run and managed by the Italian based humanitarian organisation EMERGENCY.
Since April 2007, the Centre provides high standard, free of charge paediatric and adult cardiac surgery.

From Bangui to Khartoum

Marhja is wearing a red hijab that only leaves her face and her ankles exposed. She comes from Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. She is 45 years old and at the age of 30 she was diagnosed as having poorly functioning mitral valves. For a few years the disease allowed her a normal life: looking for work, looking after her seven children, planning to leave her country to find treatment.

One day, however, her breathlessness became continuous and extremely oppressive. She arrives at the Bangui Hospital with her youngest child: the doctor confirms the worsening of her condition and the necessity for a surgical intervention. "Go to Egypt", advises the doctor, but for Marhja this is impossible. It is already difficult to maintain her family, how would she be able to pay for a trip to Cairo and an open heart surgery?.

She asks for help from her family and friends, but the cost is too high and no one is able to help her. Her husband, a taxi driver, works day and night to put aside a bit of money, but all this extra income is spent on the necessary medicines to relive his wife’s suffering. It appears that Marhja has no real future, just as she her self states that in the Central African Republic the future privilege of few.

One month ago, out of the blue, the cardiologist at the Bangui hospital communicated to Mahja, that thanks to a collaboration between the hospital and an Italian NGO, her operation would be done. She arrived in Khartoum by plane, at EMERGENCY expenses, and after a week of examinations her mitral valve is replaced. Today, whilst wainting to be discharged, Marhja no longer suffers from pain and is able to think of the future ahead of her.

Caterina, Khartoum

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