Paw is 27 years old and lives with her husband and two daughters on a small plot of land where they live as subsistence farmers. It was during Paw's second pregnancy that she says she first experienced symptoms of her cardiac condition. She had been extremely tired during the last part of her pregnancy and found it very difficult to breathe during the birth. In December of last year, Paw experienced severe chest pain with palpitations and difficulty breathing. The chest pain was accompanied with sweating and extreme shortness of breath. Paw visited our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, and learned that she has three different heart malformations involving the mitral and tricuspid valves, which would need surgery to correct. Paw is scheduled to undergo heart surgery on April 24, and is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure. After her recovery she will be able to give her children the lives they deserve by going back to work and being able to take care of them again.
Meet Thidar, a 23-year-old woman from Burma. Thidar has worked as a housemaid in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Thidar now lives with her parents and younger brother. When Thidar was two years old, she was diagnosed with a cardiac condition that could not be treated at her young age. When she was 13 years old, Thidar left home to become a housemaid for four years. Thidar is fatigued and often dizzy, which makes it difficult for her to work. She is scheduled for heart surgery to repair the condition. The procedure is scheduled for July 24 and will cost $1,500. Thidar hopes to return to work with renewed health following the surgery. "My condition has caused a lot of distress. My parents have had to borrow large sums of money in order to cover the costs of my condition. I want to get better for them, and I want a healthy life, and I want to walk like a strong woman," says Thidar.
Soe is a 13-year-old from Burma. She lives with her parents and two siblings in a village in Taninthary Division. Her brother goes to school while her little sister is still too young to go. Soe was not able to go back to school this year, after she completed grade seven, due to her illness. Her father works as a tenant on Soe grandparents’ farm and gets to keep half of the harvest. Soe's mother used to be a vegetable vendor but has stopped working to look after Soe. In May 2019, Soe fell sick with a high fever and a severe cough. She was brought to a clinic where she received a physical examination. The doctor informed Soe's mother that she has a heart condition and urged them to go to a hospital in Yangon. Her mother followed the doctor’s advice and took her to Bahosi Hospital in Yangon on June 25th, 2019. There she received an echocardiogram (echo), x-ray, and a blood test. After her results came in, the doctor diagnosed her with mitral valve regurgitation, a problem with one of the valves in her heart, and told Soe's mother that she needs to have surgery that will cost 8,000,000 kyat (approx. 8,000 USD). Unable to afford her treatment, Soe instead received medication for the next four months. Although she took the medication, Soe did not feel better. One day, their neighbor told them to bring Soe to another hospital in Yangon. Soe's mother followed their advice and took her to Vitoria Hospital in Yangon. Soe received another echo, blood test, and an x-ray. A doctor at the hospital then told Soe's mother to come back the next month, without explaining why. When they traveled back in January 2020 for her appointment, the doctor told them to meet a cardiac nurse at another hospital in Yangon. When meeting that nurse, she told them about Watsi's Medical Partner Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) and that they may be able to assist her in accessing further treatment. With the help of BCMF, Soe went to Chiang Mai in March 2020. She was admitted at Lampang Hospital on July 25th, 2020 and received surgery to repair her mitral valve two days later. She was discharged home in August and received a follow-up appointment for a month later. When she returned for her follow-up appointment, she was readmitted to the hospital. She received a number of tests including an echo and an electrocardiogram. Once the doctor reviewed her test results, she was told that the sutures from her surgery were loose and that she would need to receive surgery to replace her mitral valve. Since her first surgery, Soe no longer has a cough. However, she is pale. Her mother is worried because Soe has not gained weight nor has her condition gradually improved like other heart patients after surgery. “After she recovers, I want to send her to school until she becomes a teacher," said Soe's mother. "When she plays with her friends, she pretends she is a teacher and that she is teaching her friends. Even when she felt sick, she would try to go to school and she always studied a lot. Her teacher loves her. But Soe is always worried that she will fail her exams.”
Zaw is a 30-year-old man from Burma. He lives with his wife and son at his parent in-law’s home. Though they live together, household income and expenses are not intermingled as his in-laws have their own children to care for. His wife stays at home to take care of their son while he works as a agriculture day laborer. In 2014, Zaw became aware of the symptoms caused by his condition. Whenever he tried to do heavy lifting he would experience laboured breathing. He became especially alarmed when he began walking from sleep due to his difficulty breathing. Besides feeling weak and tiring easily, his legs would sometimes tremble. On January 10, 2015 Zaw and his wife went to the National Heart & Lung Centre in Rangoon, which performed a cardiogram and referred him to Asia Royal Hospital for further testing. The doctor gave Zaw an appointment date to go back but because he ran out of money, he had to travel back home to borrow more money. Returning on time for their appointment, Asia Royal Hospital conducted a CT carotid angiogram. Zaw was told that treatment for his condition could cost 5,000,000 kyat (approx. 5,000 USD), Zaw and his wife returned home. Back in their village, concerned neighbors recommended Zaw travel to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), a Watsi partner. Departing from Mon State and accompanied by his wife and two aunts, they made a costly journey to Thailand. Upon arrival at MTC in July 2016, staff conducted an echocardiogram and diagnosed Zaw with a heart condition called Mitral valve regurgitation. He requires surgery to correct the condition and get healthy again. When Zaw isn’t working, he looks forward to spending time with his son. Because work is hard, he rests during his time off and occasionally the family will go on outings to visit relatives. "I look forward to returning to the days when I can work and provide for my family as I once did in the past," Zaw shared.
Win Thein is a 48 year old male currently living in Naung Khyo, Mae Sot, Thailand. He and his wife originally from Taungoo City, Bago Division in Burma. They moved to Mae Sot 6 months ago for better job opportunities. They do not have any children. Win Thein’s wife is an agricultural day labourer, working in the corn fields 5 days a week earning 130 Baht (approx. 4.3 USD) per day. Win Thein had to stop working in December 2015 due to his symptoms resulting from his heart condition so the only income for the couple comes from his wife. The income is not enough to cover daily living expenses or pay for healthcare. Three years ago, Win Thein noticed he was coughing with blood. He went to Taungoo General Hospital in Burma where the doctor checked him. He received a blood test and urine test and the doctor told him he had a cardiac problem but didn’t tell him that he needed surgery. He purchased medicine prescribed to him that cost 60,000 Kyat (approx. 60 USD). Win Thein went to the same hospital two more times after that, all in 2013. The second time he went to the hospital was after he was driving his motorbike he couldn’t breathe and felt very fatigued. At the hospital, once more they only told him to purchase medicine. A third visit to the hospital yielded no new results, only the same medicine prescribed. After that, whenever he experienced symptoms, he didn’t go to receive medical treatment at a facility; he only renewed his prescription from the local pharmacy. However, the medicine didn’t greatly improve how he felt. In addition, Win Thein and his wife have had to borrow money from friends in Burma in order to pay for medical care and other daily expenses and are currently 200,000 Kyat, (approx. 200 USD) in debt with no interest. In April 2016, Win Thein had a high fever and was disoriented. He and his wife had heard about Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) from a friend so decided to seek care there in May 2016. The medic told him to come back to MTC for follow up in June. MTC took Win Thein to Mae Sot Hospital in June 2016 for an x-ray which showed that his heart was enlarged. After that MTC referred him to BCMF. Win Thein’s wife must go to work and can’t take care of her husband during the way. Win Thein enjoys playing with the neighbour’s children. He wants to get better soon so he can work hard, and pay back his debt.
Aye Myint is a 20-year old man from a refugee camp in Thailand. He lives with his parents and a younger sister. His father had to stop working because Aye Myint’s mother is often unwell and he looks after her and Aye Myint. The camp authorities also restrict refugees from working outside the camp, and there have been reductions in the rations supplied, so it is more difficult for the family to afford daily expenses especially with sick people in the house. When he was 12 years old Aye Myint began experiencing fast breathing and he often felt tired. He felt strong heart palpitations when he played with his friends. His father took him to the clinic in the camp and was told that he had a heart condition. The medic in the camp prescribed him some medication and told him to return a month later. He returned to the clinic with the same symptoms and the medic told him that they could not treat his heart problem, but that the clinic could prescribe medicine to prevent his condition from getting worse. He was told to return to the clinic once a month for medication. According to Aye Myint, the medicine did not improve his symptoms and he felt like his condition was deteriorating year after year. He stopped attending school three years ago because he was admitted to the clinic so many times due to fever, chest pain, difficulty breathing and heart palpitations. Aye Myint did not seek treatment from anywhere else because the family did not know where to access treatment outside of the camp. They also did not know who to ask for help and they just depended on the camp clinic. In June, 2016, Aye Myint had a high fever and was admitted to the clinic for almost a month. Then, in early July he felt dizzy, could not breathe well and fainted. The America Refugee Committee (ARC) who currently looks after the clinic in the camp referred him to Mae Sot Hospital (MSH) as an emergency patient and he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for two days. The doctor performed an X-ray and echocardiogram during his hospitalization. He was at MSH for 15 days and upon discharge the doctor told him he needed heart surgery, as soon as possible. The ARC then referred Aye Myint to Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), a Watsi partner. Currently, Aye Myint experiences chest pain, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations. He cannot walk long distances and feels more tired when he is active. Whenever he has difficulty breathing, he cannot sleep or eat well. “As a father I feel pity and am sorry for my boy but I just didn’t know how to help him," Aye Myint's father shared. "I just want to see my son in good health; I don’t want him to suffer anymore. He is my only son and it is heartbreaking to see him in this condition."
Cho Cho is a 49-year-old woman who lives in a refugee camp in Thailand with her husband. They have lived in the camp for three years, and they sell snacks to make an income. Sometimes, her husband delivers heavy bags of goods like charcoal to people’s homes to earn some money. When Cho Cho was living in Burma, she became very sick. Sometimes she felt very fatigued but she never sought out treatment because she was afraid of the cost. Eventually, Cho Cho came to Watsi's partner, Mae Tao Clinic, several years later after hearing about it from a relative. There she was given an ECG and x-ray, and diagnosed with heart disease. She was told she would need surgery, because medication would no longer change or improve her condition. Currently, Cho Cho feels extremely fatigued. She can’t do house chores, walk, or work independently. She experiences chest pain, back pain and muscle tension. Cho Cho got some money as a donation from a religious day ceremony to fund her travel to the hospital. $1,500 will help fund the rest of Cho Cho's treatment, and allow her to live symptom-free. “In the future I want to go back to work, make snacks and sell them in front of my house," Cho Cho shared.
Mu is a 19-year-old woman from Thailand who works as a babysitter. Both of her parents are farmers, and she has four siblings. She is originally from Burma, but she moved to Thailand to seek better work opportunities and support her family. Mu was born with a congenital cardiac condition that has caused her chest and back pain, difficulty breathing, and a rapid pulse. While she used to receive medications in her hometown in Burma, these did not help to completely alleviate her symptoms. She was eventually diagnosed with congenital aortic and mitral valve disorders that will require surgery to repair. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral and atrial valve repair and replacement. Mu's procedure is scheduled for May 2. Mu shares, “As we didn’t have money to visit the hospital and get treatment, there wasn’t a lot my mother could do to make me feel better.” With the proper treatment, Mu can resume living a normal, healthy life.
Ah was born in Burma. Around ten years ago, he moved to Bangkok, met his wife, and had two children. One day, while Ah was painting a house, he suddenly felt tired, had no energy, a fast heartbeat, and was coughing a lot. He visited the hospital in Bangkok and was told by the doctor he needed heart surgery. Ah could not afford the surgery, but the doctor prescribed oral medication to keep his symptoms in check. Recently, Ah has not been able to pay for his medication and stopped taking it. Since his condition deteriorated, he was unable to work and returned to Burma. His condition has worsened to the point that he cannot drink or eat anything, and as a result, Ah has developed a distended abdomen. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to help fund Ah’s heart surgery. Ah misses his wife and children, but is unable to visit them as he has no money and is in poor health. He looks forward to getting better and seeing them again.
Zaw is a 22-year-old man who lives with his family in a village in Karen State, Burma. Zaw works as a semi-subsistence farmer with his parents, growing corn and rice. In May, Zaw started to cough a lot, experience chest and abdominal pain, and feel constant fatigue. At a local hospital, he was diagnosed with a cardiac condition but, unable to afford surgery, he returned home. His cough and fatigue have persisted, and he now requires an oxygen tank at night. On October 6, surgeons will finally perform the heart surgery Zaw needs. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, requests $1,500 for his medical treatment.
“After I receive surgery I will be able to go back to working in Bangkok to save money for my family,” shares Moe, a 32-hear-old woman. For the past 10 years, Moe has worked in Thailand as a domestic worker. She lives in her employer’s house and works six days a week. She sends the money she earns home to Burma to support her father and younger brother’s family. For this reason, she has not been able to save up any money for medical expenses. This has been a major problem lately. Four years ago, Moe started to feel unwell. She felt unusually fatigued and experienced occasional heart palpitations. In October of 2017, however, she had an especially frightening episode of heart palpitations and decided to visit a hospital in Bangkok. There, she received a diagnosis of mitral stenosis, meaning that a valve in her heart is not opening properly, which inhibits blood flow. If left untreated, this condition can lead to blood clots and heart failure. There is a surgical procedure that can correct the problem in Moe’s heart. However, she has been very anxious because she knows she cannot pay for it. She is also worried about how her family would survive without her income if she were to pass away. But there is hope for Moe. When we raise $1,500, we will be able to sponsor her operation on January 5, as well as her lab tests, medications, and 10-day hospital stay. “One day, it is my hope to move back to Burma to be with my family,” shares Moe. With your help, Moe will soon be healthy enough to be able to make that dream a reality.
Wine is a 23-year-old man from Burma. Wine’s family are subsistence farmers and they mainly grow rice and sunflowers. Since Wine’s health deteriorated, he can no longer work on the farm and now looks after two cows. In his free time, he likes to hang out with his friends. In 2016, Wine started to experience a rapid heartbeat and fatigue. As his heart rate continued to be fast, he went to see a medic in his village. The medic told him to go to the hospital instead so he visited a general hospital near his hometown. At the hospital, he received an echocardiogram and the result revealed that Wine's heart valves are not good. The doctor told him that he needs to have surgery and that it would cost six million kyat (approx. 6,000 USD). The doctor then asked his family to come back after they have enough money for the surgery and prescribed him monthly oral medication. Since then, Wine also tried to treat himself with traditional medicine. When that did not work, he relied on oral medication to stabilize his condition. However, his symptoms frequently return. At the moment, Wine cannot do strenuous work such as lift heavy things, and he has back pain. Wine said, “I am very upset that I had to stop working on the farm and that I cannot support my family anymore. I want to be healthy and recover as soon as possible. When I recover fully, I will find a good job to pay back my debt and I will help my community as much as I can.”