The connection started with a simple “hello” between exhausted travelers on a midnight flight from Nairobi. It ended with big smiles, exchanging contact information, and the joy in knowing a five-year-old boy in rural Kenya received the medical treatment he needed.
In early 2016, Solomon Kishoyian, a five-year-old preschooler at The Kilgoris Project’s Nentekeny Preschool was diagnosed with a heart murmur caused by a hole in his heart. TKP’s Student Health Officer referred Solomon and his family to a well-respected regional hospital for further evaluation and treatment. (Read more about the first part of this story on TKP’s website.) Soon, the family began raising money (approximately $2,500 USD) and planning for the life-saving surgery.
Over the next year the surgery was delayed or rescheduled several times because of financial constraints and hospital and doctor scheduling. Thankfully, Solomon’s condition was serious, but not life-threating at the time, so the family had the time they needed to raise funds and find a hospital that could perform the surgery. During this uncertain time, the family was referred to M.P. Shah Hospital in Nairobi and the non-profit organization, MEAK (Medical and Educational Aid to Kenya.) They were able to schedule the surgery with visiting surgeons from MEAK who donate their time and talents, so that families in Kenya can receive the treatments they need at no cost.
Solomon and his family traveled to Nairobi in January 2017, and a group of doctors from MEAK successfully corrected the hole in his heart valve. His strong body and resilient heart rested and recovered for a few days in Nairobi, while the doctors from MEAK continued their two-week trip and round-the-clock procedures for families in need.
Solomon’s story, TKP and MEAK intersected again, this time on a late-night flight from Nairobi to London. Vera Thompson, TKP’s Director of Student Health and Christine Hartter, TKP’s Director of Communications were headed back to the U.S. from Kilgoris and Dr. James Wong, a Pediatric Cardiologist from MEAK was headed home to London. A quick hello and exchange soon revealed that Dr. Wong had been part of the team who operated on a young boy named Solomon from rural Kenya. A few details later, the group connected the fact that the patient named Solomon was the student from TKP’s Nentekeny Preschool!