Bowdoin magazine profiled cardiologist Dr. Warren Harthorne ’53 and his medical work in Rwanda in Spring 2010. Since then, Dr. Harthorne has remained an active participant in the Team Heart medical mission. During a visit to Rwanda in 2009, Dr. Harthorne encountered a 12-year-old named Celestine who had sever rheumatic damage to his aortic valve, and whose fate appeared grim. However, Dr. Harthorne recently updated Celestine’s story with some good news.
“Celestine lived in desperate poverty in a remote village near the citgy of Butare, and had such severe damage to his aortic valve that long-term survival was unlikely,” Dr. Harthorne explains. “During a subsequent visit with Team Heart a year later, he walked six hours through the jungle to undergo a repeat ultrasound study that provided confirmation of his damaged heart.
“After that visit, Celestine became lost to Team Heart’s follow ups and was presumed dead until a Rwandan physician at the University of Butare located him in the village. He was close to death and Team Heart booked him immediately for surgical replacement of the aortic valve. Celestine underwent successful surgery last spring using a St. Jude, mechanical valve prosthesis. Because of the lack of infrastructure in the country, he has been taught to sample his own blood and self regulate the dose of Coumadin for daily anti-coagulation. With a cell phone and solar charger provided by Team Heart, he will remain in contact with a medical clinic in Butare for interim guidance. Celestine has returned to his village and recently matriculated at school for the first time in many years.”
Celestine has returned to his village and recently matriculated at school for the first time in many years.