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Young patients from Uganda undergo heart surgery in Hershey

Two young children from Uganda are recovering after undergoing successful heart surgery at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

Four-year-old Edwin Mugerwa and 11-month-old Nuashad Muwaya traveled to Hershey several weeks ago for medical care that is not available in their native country. Both children were diagnosed with congenital heart defects during screenings in Uganda through Children’s Heart Project, a project of Samaritan’s Purse.

Edwin was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect – a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart – in June 2010. During his operation, Dr. John L. Myers, chief of pediatric and congenital heart surgery at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, sutured the hole closed while the patient's circulation was supported by a heart-lung machine.

Nuashad's diagnosis was a ventricular septal defect, or a hole between the two lower chambers of his heart. That condition was complicated by a muscle that was obstructing blood flow to Nuashad's lungs. During open heart surgery to repair both defects, Dr. Brian Clark of Penn State Hershey Children's Heart Group resected the muscle that was forming the obstruction and patched the hole between the two ventricles.

Myers and Clark say the long-term prognosis for both boys is “excellent.”

“However, in both cases, if the heart defects had been left untreated, potentially fatal complications could have developed for the boys later in life,” Myers says.

Children's Heart Project arranged transportation to the U.S. and a host family for Edwin and Nuashad, their mothers and an interpreter. Penn State Hershey donated its services in the care of both patients.

Penn State Hershey Children’s Heart Group has a long history of providing heart surgery to children in impoverished countries. In addition to regularly bringing children to Hershey for surgery, a team of doctors and nurses has traveled to Ecuador annually for 15 years to provide open heart surgery there. To date, the team has performed life-saving heart surgery on more than 300 children in Ecuador.

Children's Heart Project is a project of international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, led by Franklin Graham. Children's Heart Project has brought more than 960 children to North America to receive life-saving heart surgery and treatments currently unavailable in their home countries. To find out more, visit


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