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.”