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“There is [a difference between RHD and malaria] in that malaria can be cured, while this disease has no cure. The medicine we get is to only minimize his problems so that his heart can operate normally with help from the medicine. But the real cure is only after operation. That is the difference.”

Meet Simon

In 2015, Simon John started to notice issues with his heart causing shortness of breath and affecting his ability to walk.  He visited several hospitals in Malawi but they were unable to diagnose his condition. Finally, Simon went to the Neno District Hospital, a Partners In Health sister organization in Malawi. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease, a condition that has resulted in damage to Simon John’s heart valves preventing his heart from working properly.

Why Simon’s story matters

Ten years ago, Simon John’s condition would have gone undiagnosed and led to the death of Simon John and others like him living with this condition. “If this happened 10 years ago” says Simon’s uncle , “it would have been difficult. Hospitals were not in a condition where they could screen and discover a problem like this one. In the past it wouldn’t be possible and most likely most people died with a problem like this one.” Today, Simon was able to receive a diagnoses about his heart condition and provided medication to help alleviate the problems that persist. He is able to sleep and breathe a little better with help from the medicine. However, medications used to control and manage rheumatic heart disease is not a cure. “What Simon needs”, says his uncle and care taker “is the operation because that is the real cure.”

In addition to his heart condition, Simon is his family are face with financial challenges. Simon and his uncle receive transportation assistance from the hospital to get to and from his appointments. Without this assistance they would struggle to make his medical appointments. Simon was the main source of income for his family, he lived and worked in South Africa to support his family back home but because of his heart condition, Simon is unable to breath, walk, and let alone do anything else. Simon is one of many living with this heart condition and in need of operation.