Htay is a 26-year-old-Araknese woman who lives with her younger sister in Yangon, Burma. Htay is in her final year of university. Her sister works as a seamstress in a shop and earns 200,000 kyat (approx.200 USD) per month. Their parents and their eldest sister are rice farmers in Rakhine State. Every year, they sell half of their harvest to earn an income. Htay's sister in Yangon sends their parents money occasionally, while their parents support Htay's medical expenses. The income that Htay's sister earns is enough to cover their daily expenses and pay for basic health care.
In 2018, Htay started to feel very tired and could not sleep well at night. She also experienced chest pains if she walked anywhere far. She took traditional medicine which helped her feel and sleep better. However, she continued to feel tired and experience pain. One day in 2019, a neighbor who has a heart condition, told her that she could have a heart disease like her; the neighbor had also experienced the same symptoms as Htay. The neighbor advised her to seek treatment at Pinlon Hospital in Yangon, where the neighbor had undergone heart surgery. Htay decided to follow the neighbor's recommendation and also moved in with her sister in Yangon for extra support.
In December 2019, Htay went to Pinlon Hospital to see a cardiologist. After receiving an echocardiogram (echo), the doctor told her that two valves in her heart no longer work and that she would need to receive surgery to replace those valves. The doctor also told her that because her condition is not severe, she did not need surgery yet. She received six month's worth of medication and a follow-up appointment for June 17th, 2020.
When Htay came back for her appointment, she received another echo and an x-ray. After checking her results, the doctor told her that her condition had progressed and she now needed surgery, which would cost 15,000,000 kyat (approx.15,000 USD). When they learned about the price of the procedure, Htay and her sister lost hope of ever getting Htay treatment; they could not afford to pay such a large sum of money. When Htay told a nurse at the hospital called Sandar Ko about their financial situation, the nurse told her about an abbot who might be able to help her. The abbot heads Kyaung Gyi Parahita Monastery and is a partner of Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF). Htay called the abbot and asked for help accessing surgery. The abbot then referred Htay to Watsi's Medical Partner BCMF for assistance receiving treatment at Pinlon Hospital.
Currently, Htay feels tired and suffers from chest pains when she walks a lot. She cannot sleep very well at night and she feels short of breath at least twice a week. To try and cope with her symptoms mentally, she prays or recites Dhamma. She also tries to help her sister with household chore such as cooking and sweeping. She hopes that she will be able to continue her studies after surgery and she would like to work for the government as a civil servant once she graduates.
Htay shared, “When I graduate, I will work and support my parents because they are getting old and they will not be able to work on the farm in the future.”