From Strep to Surgery

In poor countries, undiagnosed strep throat “can become a long, slow death sentence,” writes Denise Grady. Left untreated, rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease can follow, gradually degrading heart valves.
Team Heart flies surgeons to Rwanda annually to perform valve-replacement surgeries. During one recent visit, 100 people showed up for screening; just 16 were green-lit for surgery. If rheumatic fever is diagnosed quickly, penicillin can avoid valve damage, but for many, it’s too late—patients as young as 5 present with heart failure.
As Rwanda's health system rebuilds, resources for heart disease are limited. But Team Heart’s long-term goal is “putting ourselves out of business,” by handing the reins over to Rwandan doctors, says founder Cecilia Patton-Bolman.
The New York Times

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