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Cardiac Surgery Story of Hope: Celine

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In 2019, a woman named Resty wrote to LWB’s Medical Care program, pleading for help for her only child, Celine. Celine had been born with a serious cardiac defect called tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), which is a combination of four different defects which typically need to be corrected during the first year of life. When she was diagnosed at three months old, her father abandoned the family, leaving Resty desperate for help.

Ugandan mom and baby waiting for cardiac surgery

Their situation was already dire, but it was made worse by the fact that the complex cardiac surgery that Celine needed was unavailable in her home country of Uganda.

When we heard Celine’s story, we got right to work arranging to send her to Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. Resty was one brave mama — packing her bags, leaving her home and family, and boarding a plane to a place that was completely foreign to her. Hope for her daughter’s healing was much greater than fear of the unknown.

Mom and baby both in white standing in front of a brick wall

Cardiac Surgery: Celine’s Last Chance

Once Resty and Celine arrived at the hospital, doctors found that Celine had contracted a serious respiratory infection. Her lungs were so compromised that the doctors placed her on a ventilator even before she had her operation.

Baby on a ventilator following cardiac surgery

Even though those tubes were a frightening sight, Resty was relieved to see her daughter stabilized. Celine had struggled with her breathing since birth, even turning blue at times, so it was vital that doctors increase her oxygen intake.

Despite Celine’s respiratory issues, doctors decided that they needed to move forward with her heart surgery immediately for her only chance at survival.

Cardiac surgery was a success, but it was extremely hard on Celine’s little body. She remained on a ventilator, and her tiny chest was left open to allow the swelling to go down.

Baby girl in Israeli hospital on ventilator following cardiac surgery

The sight of her baby hooked up to so many machines was heartbreaking to see, but Resty told us later, “I kept being strong because God is the last doctor.”

A Little Fighter

With her first battle won, Celine prevailed in the next few fights as her chest was closed, the ventilator was removed, and she was able to move out of the ICU. Over the next weeks, Celine grew stronger and found her smile again. Those once-blue lips were now lighting up the room with grins and giggles.

Baby smiling in hospital wearing a pink scarf and holding a rattle

Within a few more weeks, Celine no longer needed any supplemental oxygen, she was eating like a champ, and she celebrated her first birthday. We were all thrilled to see that she had gained enough strength to sit independently for the first time! By this time, Celine had been in Israel for two full months, and it was time for her and Resty to return home.

Happy mom and her baby sitting on her lap

5 Years After Cardiac Surgery

Fast-forward to 2024. Resty thankfully stays in contact with our medical team and recently let us know that her sweet little girl is doing extremely well! Celine is five years old and really enjoys going to kindergarten.

Ugandan girl in her blue school uniform wears a pink backpack

She is a very social girl and she has many friends. Celine goes to the cardiologist for annual reviews of her heart, and we are all thrilled to know that she is one healthy young lady now.

Celine attends church regularly and participates by singing her heart out. She has several favorite songs, which she also sings when she and Resty are at home together.

Ugandan girl in striped dress stands by a tree

What a beautiful little life saved, thanks to the bravery of her mother, the skill of the surgeons, and the kindness of our supporters in making sure Celine had her chance for healing. Thank you for being a part of our community of hope!

Emmanuel: Currently Waiting for Cardiac Surgery

Celine’s story of hope turned out beautifully, and now we are hoping that eight-year-old Emmanuel can have the same amazing outcome. Emmanuel lives with his parents, a twin brother, and two older siblings in a remote region of northern Uganda. Cattle rustlers recently stole the family’s main source of income, giving this impoverished family even fewer resources than before.

Ugandan parents and their son stand in their village

Like Celine, Emmanuel was born with tetralogy of Fallot, but amazingly, he didn’t have any serious symptoms until three years ago. He now tires after walking a short distance and has to squat down in order to catch his breath. Emmanuel’s extremities are tinged with blue, and he has a difficult time concentrating in school due to his low oxygen levels. His teachers often call for his parents to come and pick him up from school, stating that he is unwell.

Young Ugandan boy in a salmon t-shirt waiting for cardiac surgery

After consulting with doctors, Emmanuel’s parents learned that he needed a very expensive cardiac surgery that they could not afford.

In an incredible stroke of luck, a friend of Emmanuel’s mother had a child with a similar heart issue. She gave the family LWB’s contact information, and they wrote to us with the hope that their son could be healed.

This is Emmanuel’s last chance to get his life-saving surgery. We hope to send Emmanuel to our partner hospital, Amrita Hospital in India, for cardiac surgery next month, so please keep this beautiful boy in your thoughts and prayers for healing. We can’t wait to see him running and playing with his brothers and schoolmates!

A generous donor has offered a matching grant of up to $25,000 for our 7 Hearts, 7 Days campaign, which means that any donation you make this week can be DOUBLED! We are so grateful for this grant and for everyone’s support for children waiting for life-saving cardiac care.

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