Thursday, 1 December 2016



The Heart to Heart Foundation
Upon their return from The United States of America, Dr. Betty Gikonyo first worked at The Kenyatta National Hospital. There were great challenges; the diagnosis mechanisms had ground to a halt. In addition, the only programme available for facilitation of open heart surgeries was inactive. Luckily they had bought a 2 dimensional echocardiogram that helped a lot with the diagnosis of heart conditions then. Soon they were servicing the needs of patients from the national hospital and beyond. After the diagnosis what then? There were fewer open heart surgeries being carried out during that time. Dr. Betty Gikonyo was troubled by the fact that after making her diagnoses she couldn’t proceed to plan for the much needed surgeries due to financial constraints and lack of proper mechanisms to carry out corrective open heart surgeries.
For those who closely know Dr. Betty Gikonyo, they would certainly agree that she is not one to be put down by a challenge. Instead like an eagle she glides in the storm. Initially they sought help from cardiologists and surgeons from countries such as Italy, India, Britain and America. Their patients could not afford to pay for these surgeries and the Gikonyos would often appeal for fully sponsored heart surgeries.
The Children Heart Fund, now called Children’s Heart Link, had offered a scholarship to Dr. Dan Gikonyo to study cardiology. They had also hosted the Gikonyos in Minneapolis. Over the years a good partnership had developed. Not only did they received the first batch of children who need surgeries from the Gikonyos but they also trained cardiac nurses and doctors in order to help increase skilled cardiology medical staff in Kenya.
The process of seeking treatment abroad was riddled with hurdles. Fund raisers were often organized. This meant getting a permit from the provincial commissioner’s office. One was also to get a letter from the Ministry of Health authorizing that the patient be treated oversees. As if this was not enough, the Central Bank of Kenya had to give the go ahead for the purchase an air ticket after depositing with them a certain percentage of the total cost of the air ticket. There was also a limit imposed on the amount of foreign currency one could travel with out of the country.
The airlifts began in 1986 and went on for a number of years. Dr. Betty Gikonyo was convinced that there had to be another way; that was not the only solution to this problem. While travelling to Minneapolis for Dr. Dan Gikonyo to further his studies, the Gikonyos had been requested to travel with one ill young man. The same organization that had offered Dr. Dan Gikonyo a scholarship was the same one catering for this young man’s treatment. His name was Sammy Arap Keter. While airborne a medical crisis unfolds. Sammy took seriously ill and needed urgent medical attention. With their medical expertise they quickly diagnosed pulmonary oedema. Acting first, oxygen and a couple of intravenous drugs were administered and his condition stabilized. From this nasty incident, they knew they had to do something to help children from economically challenged backgrounds in accessing such medical services. The conceived idea later birthed The Heart to Heart Foundation in 1993.
 Already there was a team of highly trained expertise in the country. The only thing they lacked was medical equipment to perform the surgeries locally. Through the good will of contacts especially Dr. Joseph Kiser, equipment was procured including the heart- lung machine and expensive disposables such as oxygenator packs, tubing and filters. The equipment was set up at The Nairobi Hospital. All was set for the first open heart surgery to be performed at The Nairobi Hospital.
 On 3rd October 1993, eight year old Judy Mbuthia became the first Heart to Heart Foundation beneficiary.
To date over 300 children have had surgery through sponsorships by this foundation, both locally and abroad. Over a 1000 others have received other forms of treatment and management care.
Having been established under the Trustees Deed Act of the Laws of Kenya, the foundation is a Kenyan non-profit medical charity. Its vision is to reduce the prominence of heart diseases in children under the age of 18, as well as ensuring that no child lacks access to cardiac medical treatment because of poverty. 
It has three missions that include; spearheading the prevention campaign on preventable heart disease in children, creating the framework for proper diagnosis of heart disease in children through training and education and raising adequate funds to facilitate open- heart surgery for needy children under the age of 18 suffering from both congenital and acquired heart disease.
 It is important to note that the foundation is not only involved in the treatment of cardiac cases but also in the inhibiting of preventable heart conditions. The Heart to Heart Foundation has had a number of partnership programs to help in their noble cause. One of them involved a partnership involving The Heart to Heart Foundation, the Ministry of Health and Nairobi University to avert crises waiting to happen. One of the major causes of such heart conditions like rheumatic heart disease (R.H.D) is something we often tend to ignore; untreated sore throat. Steptococci bacteria cause rheumatic fever which in turn destroys the valves and could lead to heart failure. There was a major concern with the number of children seeking medical attention as a result of rheumatic heart disease.. They taught healthcare providers on proper diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease and more importantly how to nip streptococci sore throats in the bud before it escalates. It was evident that the nonchalant attitudes towards sore throats had to be checked by both parents and healthcare workers. Between 1996 and 2006 over 5000 health workers were trained in 35 sites across Kenya. They in turn spearheaded the training of other healthcare workers in their areas of operations. Through these efforts over 2 million people were reached with the important message of prevention, diagnosis, management and treatment of rheumatic heart disease.  Over 300 cases of rheumatic fever were correctly diagnosed and referred for treatment during this period.

Initially the children heart link in Minnesota paid for the treatment of heart conditions in addition to sending a team of doctors over. With time we devised mechanisms of raising funds ourselves. This has been through a number of activities in the course of the year. The Karen Hospital Run is an annual event that aims to raise funds through encouraging individuals, schools and corporate to participate through buying of Karen Heart Run T-shirts. The Nairobi Goat Derby is another fun day organized by the Karen Hospital. Individuals, corporate and schools are encouraged to participate through purchase of tickets. The day is filled with entertainment and fun activities such as goat racing, bouncing castle, face painting and plenty of nyama choma. The last event of the year is always the annual gala dinner event where again individuals, organizations and corporate are invited to purchase tickets towards this noble course.
Donations are also sent to the foundation through an Mpesa paybill number 517800 account number hearttoheart and Equity bank account, community branch, account number: 0180291943487,account name: heart to heart foundation.
All the monies collected are directed towards heart surgery and treatment of children from economically challenged backgrounds.

The Swahili say,” Haba haba hujaza kibaba,” through your kind gesture we have been able to restore stolen childhoods, renew lost hope and leave a mark on a child’s heart. This is not a mean feat and we would not have achieved any of it without you. We are eternally grateful for your help. Asante sana.
                                                                           
                                                    

Thursday, 28 July 2016



Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is not synonymous to a particular gender; both men and women can suffer from pelvic pain. Pain is a very helpful thing. It is often an indication of something wrong; something that requires attention and fixing. 

In this case, pelvic pain in both men and women could be an indication of underlying issues that include but are not limited to sexually transmitted diseases, appendicitis, kidney infections, pelvis disorders, bladder infections, ectopic pregnancy, ovulation, fibroid, endometriosis and miscarriage among others.  There are other symptoms that could be an indication of acceleration of a problem and they include fever, painful or difficult urination, blood in stool, pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding. 
 
It is important to visit your doctor once you experience the above mentioned symptoms in order for the cause of the pelvic pain to be established. This will be done through taking a medical history, blood tests, Pelvic X-ray, ultrasound or a CT scan, a stool test among others depending on the symptoms you present and what your doctor thinks is suitable.
The prognosis or treatment modalities will depend on the results of the tests carried out.

Early treatment is key as it makes treatment easier and cheaper.

Monday, 25 July 2016



POLY CYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME
This is a group of symptoms that affect women and is brought about by increased levels of male hormones in the body.

Different women experience different symptoms but the most common symptom is irregular or no menstrual period. One may experience changes as a result of the hormonal imbalance that include infertility, pelvic pain, acne, loss of hair, reduction of breast size ( in extreme cases), deepening of the voice and abnormal growth of hair in areas such as face, chest, stomach among others. 

There are other conditions that associated with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and they include type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and cardiac conditions among others.

This medical condition is caused by factors that include genetic and environmental factors.  The risk factors associated with it include lack of adequate physical exercise, obesity and a family history.
A gynecologist will make a diagnosis through taking a physical history for example no ovulation, levels of androgen hormone in the body and presence of ovarian cysts detected through an ultrasound.
Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has no cure; however its symptoms can be managed for example through physical exercises and weight management, use of birth control pills to manage irregular menstrual period and acne.

PCOS is very common among women of ages 18-44. It is important to note that due to the fact that different women may present totally different symptoms then treatment plans may not be the same.
For more information kindly visit The Karen Hospital or contact us on Facebook (The Karen Hospital) and Twitter (@_Karen Hospital)

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Karen Hospital has branches in the following;
Rongai
Ngong
Meru
Nyeri
Nakuru
Karatina
Nairobi CBD
Kitengela
Thika
Karen

Saturday, 18 June 2016

HYDROTHERAPY AND PREGNANCY
Pregnancy releases hormones that act to soften ligaments in preparation for labour. Sometimes this can lead to discomfort and pain. For some women this may mean that they can’t continue with their normal exercise routine and for a few women it may mean a limitation in function (eg. walking, steps and lifting).

HYDROTHERAPY AND PREGNANCY
Hydrotherapy and water exercise assist pregnant women by:
• providing a safe, weight reduced environment to safely maintain or improve strength, stability, flexibility and fitness
• assist in the management and prevention of many ante-natal problems.
BENEFITS
Specifically, hydrotherapy can help to:
• improve stability and flexibility
• decrease and manage back pain
• improve posture
• enhance circulation
• help control fluid retention, swelling & oedema
• help control blood pressure
• manage back and pelvic pain
• cope with fatigue
• prepare your body for labor
• assist weight management
• improve relaxation, mood and sleep.

Visit our main branch located along Lang'ata Road for more information.

Friday, 17 June 2016



SLEEPING PATTERNS AND BACK PAINS

1. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back helps maintain a neutral spine position, thus easing any pressure on your lower back and neck. By keeping a straight spine, you are not forcing any extra curves in your body. When sleeping on your back, you should choose a puffy pillow, one that supports your head and neck without propping you up too much.
2. Become a side-sleeper. Sleeping on your side is the next best position, if you simply can’t sleep on your back. Side-sleeping also keeps your spine elongated and free from curves. In addition to relieving lower back and neck pain, it also is great for reducing acid reflux and decreasing snoring. If you choose to sleep on your side, it is best to choose a pillow that will fill the space above your shoulder, so your head and neck are supported in a neutral position
3. Sleeping in a fetal position is not ideal. If you are prone to sleeping in the fetal position with your knees pulled up tight and your chin tucked, you may be setting yourself up for chronic back and neck pain. An easy alteration to this sleep position is to simply straighten yourself out and sleep more in the side position. Again, choose the same pillow as you would for side-sleeping.
4. Do NOT sleep on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach is the absolute worst sleep position. Maintaining a neutral spine is near impossible when on your stomach, and even worse is the pressure it imposes on your nerves and joints. Irritated nerves can lead to pain, numbness and tingling. Think if you kept your neck turned to one side for even 30 minutes during the day; it would cause extreme discomfort and pain. Now think what sleeping on your stomach with your neck turned to one side for seven to eight hours would do, not to mention the discomfort to the lower back and hips.
As you can see, the way you sleep has a lot to do with how you feel. Although training yourself to sleep in a proper position may take some time, it will be well worth it. If a simple alteration can help relieve lower back pain and neck pain, it is definitely worth your time and effort.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016



SLEEP NEWS IN BRIEF
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout our lives. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect our mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety.
The way we feel while we’re awake depends in part on what happens while we’re sleeping. During sleep, our bodies are working to support healthy brain function and maintain our physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The word “apnea” literally means “without breath”. An apnea is defined as a complete cessation of breathing that lasts 10 seconds or greater. There are two principal types of sleep apnea, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA),” and “Central Sleep Apnea” (CSA). By far the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, diagnosed on overnight sleep study .Obstructive Sleep Apnea results from repetitive collapse of the upper airway. Central sleep apnea is due to decreased output from ventilatory control centres in the brain.

Why Sleep Apnea is Harmful – The Cumulative Effect of Sleep Apnea
The longer Obstructive Sleep Apnea goes untreated, the greater the negative effects and associated health risks. If sleep apnea remains untreated, other health conditions may emerge including: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, reflux disease (GERD), atherosclerosis and gestational diabetes.

Why Sleep Apnea is Harmful- The Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea causes: excessive daytime sleepiness, morning and daytime headaches, generalized irritability and impaired emotional functioning.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Children
You often don’t think of children of snoring or suffering from sleep apnea but a number of them do. Children with sleep apnea repeatedly stop breathing during sleep and the episodes last from 10 seconds to a minute or so. Usually, they occur because of an obstruction in the airways, commonly due to big tonsils and adenoids, obesity, family history of OSA, Down’s syndrome and sickle cell disease.  Sleep disordered breathing in childhood may be instrumental in delaying or damaging cognitive development. 

Diagnosis and treatment of Sleep Apnea
A sleep study test is usually done to diagnose sleep apnea and it is the most accurate test. The test measures how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. These tests can help your doctor find out whether you have a sleep disorder and how severe it is. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment option for the management of sleep apnea. The CPAP machine is small and pulls in room air, compresses it and blows it into a tube which is attached to a mask worn by the patient. The pressurized air from the CPAP keeps the airway open, allowing the patient to breathe. While CPAP is the common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, other modalities of treatment do exist. They include: lifestyle changes, positional therapy, weight loss, oral appliances and surgical procedures. Patients who get Obstructive Sleep Apnea treated will return to a more normal sleep pattern allowing the body its much needed rest. Patients will also feel more awake and energetic allowing increased focus and activity throughout the day.

If you, your spouse and or family member snores at night and you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, please visit The Karen Hospital and we will schedule an appointment for you to evaluate your sleep health today!









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