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Early Detection – China California Heart Watch Mission in Yunnan Province

Meredith Yang

Introduction

As I stared at her pulsing, swollen belly, I couldn’t tell if she was pregnant or not. I tried not to look, but I could only stare. My eyes traced the veins on her stomach along the surface of her belly. Her ankles were swollen like balloons. “Edema…patient presents abdominal swelling as a result of congestive heart failure,” Dr. Robert Detrano said as he pressed the ultrasound head against her chest. I watched in awe. Edema had only been a textbook concept to me a few months ago, an indicator in a long list of a series of variables that would qualify a child as “deprived” or not.


“Edema…patient presents abdominal swelling as a result of congestive heart failure,” Dr. Robert Detrano said as he pressed the ultrasound head against her chest. I watched in awe. Edema had only been a textbook concept to me a few months ago, an indicator in a long list of a series of variables that would qualify a child as “deprived” or not.


Doctor Zhao from Kunming First Affiliate Medical University training doctors in pulse oximetry on a neonate. China Cal sources doctors from locally renowned universities to act as trainers in the training programme.



Dr. Detrano finished the examination, and prescribed her a few medications to relieve her pulmonary hypertension and help her feel better. She’ll need to go to the hospital to renew her prescription after 3 months. “They’re 10,000 RMB per box,” he said. Her mother looked distraught. Dr. Detrano asked me, “How much do they make?” I looked down nervously. I had just previously asked for their average family income a year and written it down on the intake sheet: “2,000 RMB a year,” I read. The equivalent of about $300 USD.


After the pair had left, Dr. Detrano told us that the 17-year old girl probably had one more year left of her life, at most two. Having been diagnosed as a child, her parents had rushed her to surgery. The surgery drained both her parents’ finances. I listened as Dr. Detrano explained, “But the doctor should have never performed the surgery. They shouldn’t have closed the VSD.” A VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) is a hole in the ventricular wall of the heart. Literally, it is a hole in the heart.

To read the full article, please go to the May 2016 Issue of CCT.

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