Rising above Rheumatic Heart Disease: Patricia’s journey

The click clack of her high heels announces somebody is coming into the office. It is most likely our expected guest, Patricia Mwende, who is joining as an intern. She steps in with her smile ear to ear, almost instantly warming up an otherwise chilly morning.  We are glad to receive her; because the position she is filling needed someone but more specially because she has been through our program!

Patricia at her Desk in the CFACH office

Patricia was introduced to our program after years of agony with frequent fainting and vomiting.  She also had a never ending flu and headache and difficulty breathing. She was weak and dull and her stunted growth was obvious.

She was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease at the age of 12 years and that began her journey in and out of hospital. Her situation was so dire, she sat the all-important Kenya Certificate of Primary School exam in hospital. Heart disease would not stop her from an impressive score that earned her a place at a good public high school.

In February 2010, she was excited to join high school. Her joy would not live long as conditions in the boarding school were not favorable for her health condition. This had her transferred from one school to another. Her high school years, scheduled to be four, ended up being six. It was in between these years that she also joined our program. She flew with her mum to Egypt for an open heart surgery.

The 25-year-old is the fifth born in a family of six. Her father is a bus driver and her mother is a farmer. Patricia had always dreamt of being a nurse but she missed her place at nursing school as her parents were not able to raise the needed fees. She enrolled for her second favorite, a Diploma in Health Records and Information Technology. She is currently working on her research paper Communication barriers faced by health care providers during service delivery to deaf patients. She is working on graduating this December! 

Patricia is an avid swimmer who enjoys giving back to the community. She is grateful that her she can now lead a normal life.  We are truly joyous that her life was saved. Her now healthy heart beats peacefully beneath the scar that tells of her journey with rheumatic heart disease.

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