ADOKORACH, a 22 year old mother of a 1 year old boy began noticing difficulty keeping up with the other young women her age 3 years ago. Her heart condition made the pregnancy and childbirth difficult and dangerous. Adokorach lives in northeastern Congo near a mission hospital where we've taught general cardiology including cardiac ultrasound.
Ultrasound images of her heart sent to us revealed that Adokorach had severe mitral stenosis (a narrowing of one of the heart valves from scarring after her episodes of acute rheumatic fever). The valve should open up as large as a soda bottle cap to let blood through, but hers only opened to the size of a drinking straw.
More troubling, she had developed blood clots in her heart behind the valve narrowing which put her at risk of having a stroke at this young age. With her in mind, we brought a new lab machine out to Congo which would enable them to put her on anticoagulation and closely monitor her levels of blood thinning. The medication has dissolved the blood clots that were in her heart. She is now on them continuously until we can get her to Kenya to fix her valve.