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  Volume 4 - Issue 05 MAY 2006
 
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GODFREY AND AGNES FIND GOD AND ANGELS IN SWAMI'S HOSPITAL


This is a moving story of a journey from despondency to delight for the couple, Godrey and Agnes, who traveled all the way from Uganda in search of a solution to their seemingly insurmountable problem and finally found hope, light and love in Swami’s Hospital at Bangalore.

The relief in his eyes is there for all to see, and her gentle smile says it all. Their intense struggle of six long years, culminating in their visit to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore, has finally paid off. Agnes Muwanga (yes, she is from Africa ) is now ready to tell how Swami’s Hospital has helped her obtain a new life.

Nakagiri Agnes Muwanga is a devout Christian from the remote village of Kisamula in the Rakai district of Uganda in East Africa. Agnes completed her studies through the 7th grade despite suffering from ill health and bearing the yoke of poverty during her childhood.

 

Agnes's Health…An Unsolved Mystery

 

Her husband of fifteen years, Godfrey Muwanga, is a farmer. They own a piece of land where Godfrey toils single handedly to cultivate maize, banana, cassava, groundnuts, sweet potato, and coffee.

Godfrey married Agnes when she was twenty years old. They were happy but tragedy befell them when she lost their first child during her pregnancy.

Their second child, a boy, is now eight years old, but misfortune struck again when their third child was born dead. These deaths seemed to have some connection with Agnes’s health, but they remained an unsolved mystery.


No Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Being a humble farmer with only an acre of land and an income dependent on the seasonal vagaries of nature, Godfrey was not a well-to-do man. He worked alone in the field with his two bare hands and without any mechanization. Nevertheless, he left no stone unturned to ensure Agnes received the best treatment available.

He took her to the biggest hospital in Uganda , Mulago Hospital in Kampala, where Agnes was diagnosed as suffering from rheumatic heart disease, a condition affecting the normal functioning of the heart valves, the orifices which regulate blood flow. (Please see the Fact File inset.) The medical treatment for her condition requires replacing the natural heart valves with artificial ones through open-heart surgery.

However, the Mulago Hospital did not have facilities for performing this type of cardiac surgery, so Godfrey was forced to look beyond Uganda for Agnes’s treatment.

They were referred to a hospital in Chennai and were told the operation would cost USD 13,000. Godfrey and Agnes were very dejected as it seemed impossible they would ever be able to collect such a large sum of money. They sought help anywhere they could but none was forthcoming…or so it seemed.

Agnes possesses a helpful nature and always strove to alleviate the suffering of those around her, in particular by supporting other women to become economically independent.

She was also active in Aids Relief activities. So it seemed sadly ironic that no one had stepped forward to help her in her time of need.

 
Fact File: Heart Valves & Rheumatic Heart Disease

Heart valves keep blood flowing in one direction through the heart. They open to let blood flow through and then close to prevent blood from flowing back the way it came. There are four valves in the heart. They are the pulmonary, tricuspid, aortic and the mitral valves.

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a condition in which permanent damage to heart valves is caused by rheumatic fever. When affected, these valves can become narrow, leak or have a combined problem of narrowing and leaking. Other valves can also deteriorate over time. Valves that do not open and close correctly make it difficult for blood to flow properly through the heart causing the heart to pump harder in order to circulate enough blood through the body. Eventually this over exertion can weaken the heart.

It is the aortic and mitral valves which are predominantly damaged from RHD.

Overcrowding, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, improper diagnosis of upper respiratory illnesses, inadequate treatment with Penicillin are some of the reasons why rheumatic heart disease is still widely prevalent in the developing world. Because of antibiotics, rheumatic fever is now rare in the developed countries, though in recent years it has begun to make a comeback in the United States among children in poor innercity neighborhoods. However, with proper prevention and treatment, it is a disease which can be reduced to a very low incidence and even be eradicated from the world.

The treatment of RHD is to replace the damaged heart valves with either natural or artificial ones.


Message from Hon. Maria Mutagamba

MP Elect, Rakai District , Uganda & Minister of State for Water and President of African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW)

“I am sincerely grateful to Sai Baba for His unfailing Love for all mankind in spite of creed, race or nationality. From what I see, His one trip to Uganda in 1968 endears Him to this country and when I met Him His wish was that Uganda becomes a haven of peace and tranquility.

In order to celebrate His 80th birthday with us, Sai Baba donated 80 boreholes to the water stressed areas of Uganda and as I speak now construction is on-going. Ugandans are grateful.

I also wish to express my appreciation to the Heart Valve Bank, UK for the support extended to Agnes and her family. Looking at the File Facts, and the many incidences of diseases especially in children, I pray that the kindness of Sai Baba will continue opening more doors of support to our vulnerables. I thank Mr. Kalyan Ray of UN-Habitat for having introduced me to Swami.”

- Mary Mutagamba

 

Sai’s Saving Grace Through Maria Mautagamba

It has been said that it is darkest before the dawn. Agnes and Godfrey made one last attempt and approached their local minister in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. As it turned out, the Hon. Maria Mutagamba, Minister of State for Water, proved to be their saving grace.

She introduced them to a "friend" she knew in India: Sathya Sai Baba. She told them about His Hospital in Bangalore , which she explained shone through the darkness like a ray of hope for those with nowhere left to turn.

She had visited the Hospital and described its imposing and temple-like architecture and promised them she would look into whether Sai Baba's Hospital could help them. Hope rose in their hearts.

In due course, thanks to the efforts of the Hon. Maria Mutagamba and the Heart Valve Bank, UK, which sponsored their air tickets, Godfrey and Agnes were on a plane to India.

They arrived at the outpatient department of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore, in March of 2006. Agnes was put through a battery of tests which confirmed that her aortic and mitral valves were damaged. (See Fact File inset.) Within a few days, Agnes was admitted and operated on.

“A Great Miracle In Itself” – Dr. Anil Kumar Mulpur

This is what Dr. Anil Kumar Mulpur, HOD, Cardiac Surgery, who operated on Agnes, had to say regarding her successful surgery and post-operative recovery: “Agnes had a very narrow aortic root on the preoperative investigation and the operation was a challenging one. With Swami's grace and thanks to all the members of the cardiothoracic surgery team for their effort, Agnes Nakagiri made a smooth postoperative recovery. Personally, I feel it is a great miracle in itself for a remote African farmer's wife to come this far for the treatment. I feel greatly indebted to Swami for the chance given to us to operate on this lady.”

“It came up from my interaction with her that she is the chairperson in AIDS prevention in her own community. She is going to work more for her community after she returns to her place. It is gratifying to see these patients go back to community, lead a productive life of good quality and bring some more happiness to their own families and the communities. There is a spiritual reawakening apart from better health for these patients,” he added.

 
   
Dr. Anil Kumar Mulpur

After her successful surgery and an uneventful stay in the intensive care unit, Agnes was moved to the postoperative ward where Godfrey and Agnes related their long and trying tale. When they come to the turning point in their account when Swami entered the picture, they heaved a sigh of relief and explained that Sai Baba will forever remain an integral part of their lives.

“I Am So Overwhelmed By The Love And Care....” Agnes

“In Uganda we ran from pillar to post in the hope of finding treatment. In our own homeland people are so self-centered and help was so difficult to obtain. We are so thankful to the doctors and all the staff here who have been so nice to us,” said Godfrey.

“I am so overwhelmed by the love, care and treatment I received here. I feel it is my faith and belief in Jesus Christ which made it possible for me to be treated here. We are very keen to have Sai Baba’s darshan before we leave for Uganda.

 

 

Once I return home I want to spread the message of the loving care I received here and talk about what Baba has made possible for humanity,” added Agnes, looking up from the book Sai Baba: Man of Miracles, she was reading. The calmness and poise in Agnes’s demeanor were quite striking and visible proof of her deeply rooted faith.

“If blessed with the opportunity, I would like to sing in Baba’s presence,” prayed musically gifted Agnes, who leads the church choir and teaches people to sing, as well as also playing drums. When told that Baba had been in Uganda in 1968, they both exclaimed, “Oh, how we wish we were born earlier!”

Godfrey and Agnes in front of Hospital in Banaglore
   

Sai’s Hospital is For All

Bhagavan's hospitals have always stood for providing state-of-the-art medical care, totally free of cost, breaking all barriers of caste, creed, race, religion and nationality. Agnes’s treatment is yet another example demonstrating that Baba’s hospitals do not function on a "Restricted Entry" concept. No matter who you are or where you hail from, the doors of Sri Sathya Sai's hospitals are open to all who need their help.

Heart2Heart team




 
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Vol 4 Issue 05 - MAY 2006
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