Dvora Levkovich with Angmo Dolma, whom she sponsored for Mitral Heart Valve replacement surgery in April 2003. Dvora has participated in several HHE camps and has generously supported HHE's cause. Know more about Dvora and support her. Visit www.ddiamanteltd.com.
Rheumatic heart disease has nearly disappeared
from the United States, but is still an illness that is found in
remote villages of the Western Himalayas where penicillin is scarce.
In medical terms, rheumatic fever is an immune reaction to certain
strains of streptococcal bacteria. It is initiated by streptococcal
pharyngitis—“strep throat”. Strep infection stimulates
an autoimmune response in which damage may affect joints, the heart,
skin, brain, and other organs. The cardiac involvement is referred
to as rheumatic heart disease. Most of the damage caused by rheumatic
fever is temporary. However, damage to the heart may be permanent
and leads to injury to heart valves, most commonly the mitral and
aortic valves. This initial damage leads to a decades long process
that leaves the valves either narrowed or leaking.
Sonam Tserring an 11-year old girl from Panamik region of North India
Each year, participating
physicians on the Himalayan Health teams have diagnosed rheumatic
heart disease in patients who have little chance of surviving long
term if surgery to replace or repair damaged valves is not performed
in a timely manner. Since 2001, Himalayan Health Exchange has sponsored
several patients for valve replacement or repair. Young patients
have been flown to New Delhi’s ‘All India Institute
of Medical Sciences’ (AIIMS) for surgery. Funding for these
surgeries is provided by Himalayan Health Exchange and, in some
cases, by team members, their families and friends.
Cherring Phunchok, a 22-year old Monk from
working with the Himalayan Health Exchange were unable to directly
participate in the treatment of these cardiac patients once they
were referred. In 2004, Himalayan Health set up a joint effort
between the local health department and Asoka Mission based in
New Delhi. HHE brought into Leh and Kargil government hospitals
a team of 10 surgeons, cardiologists and support staff from AIIMS
to perform some of the surgery closer to the Himalayan home of
The next step is to allow Project Heart
to bring more extensive care closer to these patients of the Indo-Tibetan
Borderlands by establishing a permanent facility in the Inner-Himalayas.
This will create a home base for our on-going medical and dental
camps. This new project will be initiated with support from two
new non-profit organizations: The
Himalayan Health Center Foundation and The Himalayan Health Center.