In 2019, LWB’s Uganda staff learned of a very sick girl named Mary Martha. This small five-year-old child had been born with a complex cardiac defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, and surgery in Uganda was not an option due to the severity of her condition. By the time we met her, Mary Martha had become so weak that she could no longer walk for more than a minute or two at a time.
Her life was in serious danger, and her mother was desperate to find assistance. We knew we needed to help, and our Uganda Medical Team got to work investigating surgical options far and wide.
When Mary Martha was accepted for surgery in Israel, we all celebrated. We were able to quickly get her a visa and make travel arrangements to get her to Wolfson Medical Center. Thankfully, Mary Martha was able to have heart surgery just days after her arrival there. Her operation was a complete success, and she spent several weeks in Israel recovering.
In addition to gaining strength, Mary Martha also learned what it’s like to have a healthy appetite. One of our caregivers ended up sneaking extra food out of the cafeteria in order to help fill her up!
The transformation of Mary Martha during her time in Israel was remarkable. A long-time LWB volunteer happened to be in Israel for work and visited her in the hospital. She brought a pretty new dress and a doll (which delighted Mary Martha), and remarked on the changes that she saw in this lovely young girl: “Her lips are pink, her cheeks are more filled out, and there is just a visible sparkle of health in her eyes that wasn’t there before. What a beautiful change to witness!”
We were all so happy when this precious girl returned home to be reunited with her mother and adorable little brother, Francis. A short time after the joyous homecoming, our Uganda program director, Christina Lindseth, was thrilled to visit the family in 2020.
When Mary Martha had been home for a few months, she felt well enough to be enrolled in a wonderful local primary school. Although she was a couple of years older than her classmates due to her earlier health struggles, she fit right in. Right from the start, she received “very good” marks in every subject, along with an “excellent” in social habits.
Fast-forward to 2023, and ten-year-old Mary Martha continues to be an outstanding student. While reading and writing are two of Mary Martha’s strongest subjects, she says that she is passionate about science and has dreams of becoming a doctor in the future. She tells us that her personal experience of being saved by doctors has made this a very important dream. Ever since her life-changing surgery, saving lives has become her ultimate desire. She even plays out medical scenarios with her friends, where she takes her role of physician very seriously.
Mary Martha is a caring and sensitive girl, building many positive relationships with her fellow students. And of course she is truly cherished by her mother and younger brother, Francis.
Speaking of Francis, we have a little bonus to Mary Martha’s “Story of Hope” to share. At nearly four years old, Francis had a medical difficulty of his own when he needed a hernia repair. We were able to arrange surgery just a few weeks ago, and he is now feeling so much better. His smile is every bit as gorgeous as that of his big sister!
We are so very grateful to the wonderful donors who made Mary Martha’s surgery and education possible, and also to those who put the smile back on Francis’ face! The things that YOU can make possible by supporting our work around the world are truly amazing!
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