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20 Years of Hope: Verena

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Little Verena was born prematurely to secondary school teachers in Uganda. After spending a few weeks in a hospital incubator, she was transferred to the Uganda Heart Institute where doctors diagnosed her with a heart defect. Unfortunately, Verena’s heart defect could not be repaired in Uganda, as it was too complex. Verena’s only chance at life would be to leave the country for surgery, which is an impossibility for most Ugandan families.

Toddler girl sitting on her mom's lap in Uganda

Thankfully, while still at the local hospital, Verena’s parents met the family of another child who was being helped by Love Without Boundaries in Uganda. A number of tests and emails flew back and forth between Uganda and our LWB staff in the US, and ultimately we arranged to help with the cardiac surgery that Verena needed. Verena was the very first child that our medical care program sent to India for cardiac surgery. At the time, she was nearly a year old, and we were all hopeful that she could receive a full repair of her heart.

Unfortunately, Verena’s initial echocardiogram had not fully identified the extent of what turned out to be a complex heart defect. She was only able to receive a pulmonary artery banding procedure to relieve her symptoms while we learned that true healing would require another operation at a later date.

Toddler girl lying on side in hospital bed after surgery

The family returned home to Uganda where Verena continued to struggle in spite of the banding procedure. She frequently had respiratory issues that required hospitalization, and her family simply did not have the funds for the additional surgery that she needed. They reached out once again to LWB, and we were happy to be able to commit to helping Verena!

Toddler girl wearing a red dress with white dots and flowers sitting on someone's lap

By August of 2022, Verena was part of a group of seven children flying from Uganda to India for heart surgery. She quickly became fast friends with Ezra, a little boy who was also part of this group. Aren’t they cute together?

Ugandan boy and girl with arms around each other's shoulders

By this time, we had established a relationship with a different Indian hospital that had the ability to take complex cases such as Verena’s. After a number of tests, the surgeons came up with a plan to do a very difficult and high-risk 10-hour surgery. They felt this was her one good chance for a full repair of her heart.

It turned out to be a very good plan, and Verena came through the cardiac surgery amazingly well! Verena spent just a few days in the ICU and was then transferred to the regular ward just in time to celebrate her fourth birthday. What an amazing birthday gift for this special girl!

Young girl sitting up in hospital bed after heart surgery

Three months later, Verena was back home in Uganda and started going to school for the first time! Her mother told us: “Thank you for all your efforts that have made Verena live and be like other children. Indeed, ‘Every Child Counts’– Long LIVE LWB!”

Uganda schoolgirl wearing a red sweater and grey skirt

This month, we heard an update from Verena’s mother, who confirms that Verena continues to do well. Although Verena catches an occasional cold (as most children do), she no longer develops respiratory infections that require a trip to the hospital. She is used to her new daily schedule that includes going to school, even if her parents occasionally have to engage in some creative story-telling in order to get her out of bed in the morning. (It’s just so cozy in there!) When she isn’t in her school uniform in class, Verena is a girlie-girl who likes pretty dresses.

Girl wearing a dress with polka dots and rabbits holding up two fingers

We are overjoyed to see Verena enjoying a healthy life with her family, full of her parent’s love, busy days at school, and several adorable dresses. If you ask just the right way, she may even show you her very best twirl!

Young girl twirling in a dress with flowers and stripes outside near a tree

Verena’s story of hope is what’s possible when kind-hearted people support our work around the world.

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