, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24-Thousands turned up for this year’s Mater Heart Run initiative on Saturday, an annual event whose aim is to assist children from families which cannot afford the cost of cardiac surgery.
Mater Hospital’s CEO John Muriithi said this year’s event is targeting to raise Sh70 million from Sh54 million raised last year.
“Last year we sold about 30,000 t-shirts and that’s how we check how many people have registered. This year we have sold over 35,000 t-shirts an indication that there are around thirty five thousand people running today in Nairobi, Mombasa, Machakos and Mumias,” Muriithi said.
He said the funds will be used to conduct surgery on 280 children with heart complications compared to 231 treated last year.
Jasmine Chege was one of the beneficiary after the 2013 event and her mother Anne Wangare could not hide her joy.
“When Jasmine had the hole in the heart, she could hardly stand for so long, like when she goes for assembly in school. She couldn’t also go for swimming because of the water infections,” Wangare says smiling, “ But as you can see now, she is playing.”
Four-year-old Linah Bogomba from Kisii also went through open heart surgery and her life is back to normal as the mother explains.
“My daughter could not be able to do anything. All she could do is sleep all the time. Sometimes her eyes would turn blue. We discovered her condition at the age of two. But we thank God for The Mater Heart Run, she is well now as you can see.”
According to The Mater Hospital Cardiac Program Coordinator Roseanne Nyabera, while most children recover quickly after surgery, the biggest challenge is getting the right diagnosis for early treatment.“
Most of the time the parents are told the children are suffering from pneumonia or malaria while they are suffering from heart problems.”
“When we look at it cumulatively since we started, I think we have clocked about 11,000 children and 100,000 children who have gone through general screening,” Nyabera said.
The annual event has been in place for the last 18 years.
Capital Group’s Managing Director Cyrus Kamau expressed his gratitude to all the participants calling for more involvement by the private sector in future events.