Solomon Kishoyian is a typical five-year-old boy in rural Kenya. He loves his family, helps with chores, and enjoys running and playing. Kishoyian attends The Kilgoris Project’s Nentekeny Preschool—along with 140 other children in this remote community.
At Nentekeny, Kishoyian’s life took a dramatic turn earlier this year when he went for his annual well-child check-up with Francis Koskei, TKP’s student health officer. With the stethoscope connecting Francis to Kishoyian’s chest, Francis heard the familiar sound of a heart murmur.
“Heart murmurs are not uncommon, but can range in severity,” explained Vera Thompson, RN, director of student health. “Children born with heart abnormalities often have a murmur, or it can be caused by damage to the heart valves by rheumatic fever, which is a result of untreated strep throat.”
“After hearing the murmur that day, I went to Kishoyian’s house to talk with his parents and we agreed that he needed to be seen at a hospital forfurther evaluation,” said Francis.
A Disappointing Hospital Visit
The family’s first trip to Kilgoris District Hospital left them disappointed and searching for answers. The doctors informed Kishoyian’s family that surgery would need to be performed in Nairobi, costing 1 million shillings ($10,000 USD)—out of the realm of possibility for families in Kilgoris, where the average annual salary is $652. Disappointed, the family left the hospital knowing Kishoyian was unlikely to receive life-saving surgery that would fix the heart valve and prevent future heart failure. Francis decided this would not be the end of the story for Kishoyian and his family. He suggested a visit to a Tenwek Hospital, a larger, well-respected, Christian hospital in Bomet–about 100 kilometers and a two-hour car ride from Kilgoris.
“When I heard about the cost of the surgery, I decided to accompany the family to Tenwek Hospital for a meeting with doctors and a social worker,” said Francis. “Working together, we were able to arrange for the family to purchase a health insurance card that would lower their costs. Additionally, we learned about a team of cardiac physicians who visit the hospital a couple of times a year and donate their services.”
Good News At Last
After the successful visit to Tenwek, Kishoyian’s family was able to schedule the surgery to correct his heart murmur for September 2016. Since the visiting physicians donate their services, the family will pay hospital fees only—still about $2,500 USD. Stanley, Kishoyian’s father, is working with his community and church to mobilize the funds for his son’s surgery and for transportation costs.
“Without Francis on-staff and our integrated wellness checks, Kishoyian’s murmur would have gone undetected for years, and would have likely lead to death at a young age,” explained Vera. “Every year we are able to provide life-saving interventions to a handful of students—all because of our donors and their commitment to the health and education of the whole student.”
TKP is able to provide a rich, school-based wellness program for students. In cases like Kishoyian’s, Francis is able to assist with identifying health problems and connecting families to local health care resources and charitable medical groups. Immunization distribution, nutrition and sanitation programs, and anti-violence and puberty education all round out the educational experience of TKP students.
Kishoyian and his family still face challenges—but with a necessary surgery on the horizon, we look forward to seeing him and his family in TKP schools for years to come.