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Djounailena is an 11-year-old student from Haiti who needs $1,500 to fund surgery prep and travel so she can receive life-changing heart surgery.

Djounailena
62%
  • $943 raised, $557 to go
$943
raised
$557
to go
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August 29, 2022

Meet Djounailena, an 11-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two sisters in a small city on the west coast of Haiti. Djounailena is currently in fifth grade and shares that she aspires to become a teacher when she grows up!

As a result of a bout of rheumatic fever, Djounailena developed a cardiac condition called rheumatic mitral regurgitation. Since her rheumatic fever was not treated quickly enough, one of the four valves of her heart was severely damaged. This now causes her to experience weakness and shortness of breath because her heart cannot adequately pump blood throughout her body.

Fortunately, Djounailena is scheduled to fly to the Cayman Islands where she will undergo cardiac surgery at Health City Cayman Islands on September 13th. Surgeons will initially attempt to repair her damaged valve; however, if they are unsuccessful, an artificial replacement valve will be implanted.

A portion of the cost of Djounailena’s treatment is being supported by Have a Heart Cayman. Our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), is raising the remaining $1,500 to cover the costs of her surgery prep, which includes all labs, medication, check-up and follow-up appointments, and the passports needed for HCA’s social workers to accompany Djounailena and her family overseas.

Djounailena’s mother says, “Our family is all praying for our daughter’s heart to be healthy after the surgery is finished.”

Meet Djounailena, an 11-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two sisters in a small city on the west coast of Haiti. Djounailena is ...

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Djounailena's Timeline

  • August 29, 2022
    PROFILE SUBMITTED

    Djounailena was submitted by Owen Robinson, Executive Director at Haiti Cardiac Alliance.

  • August 30, 2022
    PROFILE PUBLISHED

    Djounailena's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • September 13, 2022
    TREATMENT SCHEDULED

    Djounailena was scheduled to receive treatment at Health City Cayman Islands in Cayman Islands. Medical partners often provide care to patients accepted by Watsi before those patients are fully funded, operating under the guarantee that the cost of care will be paid for by donors.

  • TODAY
    AWAITING FUNDING

    Djounailena is currently raising funds for her treatment.

  • TBD
    AWAITING UPDATE

    Awaiting Djounailena's treatment update from Haiti Cardiac Alliance.

Funded by 26 donors

Funded by 26 donors

Treatment
Overseas Prep and Transportation
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $1,980 for Djounailena's treatment
Subsidies fund $480 and Watsi raises the remaining $1,500
Hospital Fees
$0
Medical Staff
$450
Medication
$360
Supplies
$0
Travel
$900
Labs
$180
Other
$90
  • Symptoms
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Cultural or regional significance

​What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?

When a hole exists in the heart, a physician can hear a buzzing noise, or murmur, in the child's chest as blood passes through the hole at high velocity. The child's parents might notice that their son or daughter cannot keep up with other children in daily activities. In severe cases, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream can lead to dramatic symptoms, such as blue lips and tongue, clubbed fingers and toes, and heart failure. The patients treated by Haiti Cardiac Alliance tend to fall into two categories. They are either born with some type of hole or defect in the heart, or they develop valve disease as a result of an untreated strep throat infection (rheumatic fever). Patients with rheumatic valve disease experience swelling of the abdomen and extremities, as the heart tries to circulate blood through the body despite the valve's dysfunction.

​What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?

Virtually all of the conditions treated at Haiti Cardiac Alliance will eventually lead to death without surgery, the majority of them within one to two years. In the meantime, patients experience heart failure as their hearts struggle to compensate for the presence of leaks or other defects. In most conditions, the heart becomes fatigued, limiting the child's ability to be active, go to school, and participate in daily life.

What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?

Families in Haiti often have complex cultural mechanisms for understanding cardiac illnesses and their causes, sometimes involving voudou or other religious belief systems. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Haitian families in our medical partner's program also engage with the medical explanations and treatment of these conditions. Parents are willing and cooperative participants in their child's treatment.

  • Process
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Risks and side-effects
  • Accessibility
  • Alternatives

What does the treatment process look like?

The patient is first referred to our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), by a pediatrician or another medical practitioner who detects symptoms that might be cardiac in nature. HCA staff then perform an echocardiogram to diagnose the cardiac condition. If surgery is required, the child joins a triaged waitlist to be placed for surgery with partner hospitals. It can sometimes take 6-12 months to move through this waitlist. During this period, HCA provides periodic cardiac checkups, changing the patient's triage position as appropriate. The child and his/her guardian then travel to the hospital with an HCA social worker. Typically, the child spends 4-5 days in or near the hospital prior to surgery for testing and examinations. After surgery, he or she spends several more days as an inpatient prior to being discharged. When the child is strong enough to travel, usually after several more weeks, he/she returns home to Haiti. HCA provides regular cardiac checkups for at least five years postoperatively before the final discharge from their program.

What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?

These treatments are almost always life-saving in nature. These cardiac conditions are not survivable over the long-term without surgery. Within weeks after surgery, the patient should notice a difference in energy level. Many patients also undergo a growth spurt and/or gain significant weight after a surgery.

What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?

The risk of death during or shortly after an open-heart surgical procedure is about 3%. Other risks, though rare, include stroke and post-operative infection. In a small percentage of cases, the material used to patch the hole "blows," and a follow-up surgery is necessary to re-patch the defect.

How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?

Patients come to Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA) from the entirety of Haiti. This can involve three days of travel in buses, pickup trucks, or even on horseback. There is no cardiac surgery of any kind available in Haiti outside of the HCA treatment network.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

In general, patients are treated with medications to prevent heart failure until they are ready to travel. Patients may also seek care from traditional healers, who may use liquids and powders derived from local plants and roots.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.

Saw Myo

Saw Myo is a 14-year-old boy from Burma. He lives with his grandparents, parents, two sisters and a brother in a village in Karen State in eastern Burma. His grandparents are retired, and his father is a farmer who grows paddy and rubber trees on their own land. Saw Myo’s mother is a homemaker, while his two sisters and his brother go to school. The family income is just enough to cover their daily expenses. They cannot afford to pay for basic healthcare. Saw Myo used to go to school but stopped attending since his condition worsened in 2021. Saw Myo has had a lump at his lower spinal cord since he was nine years old, when he was hit by a slingshot in that area. He was given a medicinal ointment by a traditional healer which appeared to stop the lump from growing and helped with the stiffness temporarily. When Saw Myo was 12 years old, he fell off of his bicycle. He did not have any cuts or bruises but felt stiffness along his spinal cord. Afterwards, the lump appeared to be growing in size again. He was seen at a local clinic and then at a clinic in Hpa-An in January 2021, where he had an X-ray. The doctor suspected a spinal cord problem, so they encouraged Saw Myo and his mother to follow up with a computerized tomography (CT) scan at the Yangon Orthopedic Hospital in Yangon. Due to Covid-19, Saw Myo was unable to get in for a CT scan. Saw Myo’s parents did not want to give up, so they went to the Asia Royal Hospital, also in Yangon. Again, they were told that Saw Myo’s condition could not be treated locally. Finally, they returned to their home without receiving treatment. Saw Myo’s mother then contacted a medic who works at Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) in Mae Sot, Thailand, who is originally from their village. The medic told her to bring Saw Myo to the clinic as soon as possible. They spent the next few months trying to raise money, borrowing from family and neighbours. Doctors recommended Saw Myo to undergo an MRI, an imaging procedure that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of bodily organs. After analyzing the MRI, the doctors recommended Saw Myo undergo surgery to remove the tumor on his back. The tumor is cancerous, and Saw Myo will need to undergo chemotherapy after his surgery. Currently, Saw Myo is suffering a lot. He has to be careful when sitting because his whole back along his spinal cord is painful if he does not sit down slowly, and he can only sit for short periods of time before his back begins to ache. The lump is not painful to touch, but when he lays down on his right side, he has to support the lump with a pillow, making it difficult for him to sleep. He also has backpain if he has to walk for more than 15 minutes. Saw Myo sought treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. He is now scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on November 24th and his family needs $1,500 to cover the cost of his procedure and care. Saw Myo said, "I enjoy going to school and my favourite subject is mathematics. I hope that I will be able to go to school after my treatment. I would also like to raise chickens and cows to help my family in the future."

23% funded

23%funded
$358raised
$1,142to go
Mo

Mo is a 72-year-old woman who lives with her friend and friend’s grandson in Burma. During her free time, she enjoys selling vegetables that she foraged. She and her friend are both domestic workers, but Mo had to stop working two months ago due to her worsening condition. Once she stopped working, they began having difficulty purchasing food for themselves. However, Mo shares that her neighbors kindly started providing them with donated food, helping them get by. One day while washing clothes, Mo noticed that her lower left leg and foot were swollen and in pain. Over time, she developed multiple ulcers on the swollen area. She eventually stopped working and sought medical treatment at a nearby village clinic. However, the medication she received unfortunately did not help her condition, and she could not seek treatment elsewhere due to financial constraints. Over time, the ulcers became larger and more painful, preventing her from putting any weight on her left foot and walking. Her condition is also causing her to experience weakness, difficulty sleeping, a decreased appetite, and emotional distress. After a worried neighbor took a picture of Mo and posted it on Facebook explaining her situation and requesting the assistance of donors, a charity group saw the post and traveled to Mo’s house. One of the group's members is a doctor and recommended that she visit a hospital due to her leg being badly infected. The charity group members brought her to our medical partner's care center Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital (MCLH). There, Mo underwent a physical examination and was diagnosed with chronic ulcers due to Buerger’s disease, a condition that affects blood vessels in the body, causing them to swell. This can prevent blood flow and lead to clots forming. Her doctor recommends that her left leg, which has began turning black from the knee down, be amputated as soon as possible due to it being severely infected. Mo shared that neither she nor the charity group have enough money to fund her needed surgery. Fortunately, a doctor recommended Mo to our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, who is helping her receive treatment. On August 4th, surgeons will perform a leg amputation, which will hopefully alleviate Mo from her pain and discomfort. Now, she needs help to fund this $1,500 procedure. Mo shares, “At first, I felt hopeless, and I would cry every day and night. I had no one that I could ask for help. I am no longer able to bear this pain. I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me.”

73% funded

73%funded
$1,107raised
$393to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.