Saidati, my 13 year old patient with the sudden onset of severe heart failure due to rheumatic fever, died last week. She probably never kicked a football or drank a glass of cold milk in her life. She was about six grades behind Julia in school, half her weight, and not more than up to her shoulder in height. She could barely breathe when lying down to sleep. She was a sweet girl with a caring mom who was no different than everyone else until her heart valves came under immune attack in the wake of a run-of-the-mill bacterial infection, most likely a strep throat.
There is no reason that Julia should be a beautiful thriving young woman with hope of a full future, and Saidati should be dead. If poverty can be defined as a lack of options, alternatives, safety nets, back-up plans . . then that poverty becomes most starkly evident when disease strikes. We try to be a small voice and hand of justice in a skewed world, but even though a generous donor read Heidi's blog and wanted to help Saidati, Uganda does not have the capacity to offer a valve-replacing surgery yet, and she was far down a list of potential candidates for surgery abroad.
Hoping they can run and pass a ball in Heaven, equally fit and free.