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Healing His Heart

Written by Peggy Wydeven, HTCWI Chapter Director

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, Healing the Children Wisconsin became involved in an effort to help a little boy from Uganda receive much needed heart surgery through our International Medical Assistance Program. Martin was a 3-year-old boy with a ventricular septum defect. The defect was a large hole between the lower chambers of his little heart. He needed open-heart surgery to place a patch on that hole and this type of surgery was not available in Uganda. Healing the Children worked with Kayla Billington, founder of Paty’s Project. Kayla is a travel neonatal intensive care unit nurse who volunteers in medical clinics throughout Uganda. Healing the Children has worked with Kayla before and we noticed that she was actively fundraising to help save Martin’s life. She developed the plan to bring Martin to a hospital in India. We reached out to offer assistance and a collaboration was formed. We assisted Kayla with obtaining visas for Martin and his Grandmother and funded the cost of his surgery.

In February, Kayla traveled from the United States to Uganda and accompanied Martin and his grandmother, Aisha, to India to have the operation. Martin’s physician, Dr. Isabirye Henry from Uganda traveled with the group to act as an interpreter. During pre-op testing at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, cardiologist, Dr. Krishna Kumar, discovered that in addition to a very large hole in his heart, Martin had a leaky mitral valve which also needed repair. His heart was very enlarged and Dr. Kumar, stated that without intervention, Martin only had a matter of months to live. Martin had open heart surgery on February 17th and Kayla was given the opportunity to scrub in and observe his surgery. We are delighted to report that Martin’s surgery was a great success. What a wonderful miracle! God had Martin in His hands throughout the entire process. Today, Martin is back home in Uganda continuing to recover under the close eye of Dr. Henry. With his heart repaired, no further intervention will be needed and Martin will live a happy and healthy life.

A huge thank you to Kayla for her passion to help heal children’s hearts in Uganda, for traveling to India with Martin’s family and allowing Healing the Children to be a part of Martin’s journey. Thank you to Martin’s surgeon, Dr. Krishna Kumar from the Amrita Hospital in Kochi, India for the exceptional care of Martin. Thank you to Dr. Isabirye Henry for providing such wonderful care for Martin in Uganda and traveling to India for his surgery. And finally, thank you to supporters of Paty’s Project and Healing the Children who generously contributed to the cost of Martin’s medical care.

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It truly takes a village to heal a child.

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