Winnie with her daughter
“I’m 42 and still strong. Thanks to Children’s HeartLink.” Winnie Wanna Njue from Kenya comments often on our Facebook posts. Almost three decades earlier she was among the children who came to Minnesota to have lifesaving heart surgery. Winnie was diagnosed with heart disease when she was 10, in 1987.
“I was usually tired and breathless most times,” says Winnie.
There was little hope that her parents, farmers in Embu county in the eastern part of the country and the parents of five children, would be able to afford the surgery Winnie needed. Fortunately, in 1992, her physician in Nairobi got her connected to Children’s HeartLink. She spent six months in Minnesota, before and after her surgery at Mayo Clinic. Children’s HeartLink also helped her when she needed another surgery a few years later in Kenya.
“I got to be able to work after surgery. I went on with education and could do the less strenuous sports.” Winnie stayed in touch with Children’s HeartLink afterwards and visited Minnesota in 2009 to share her story with our supporters at our gala.
Now she is the mother of an 18-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Winnie cares for improving health in the places that need it most. She works for the laboratory of a government-funded health center in Embu county.
From 1959-1993, Children’s HeartLink (Children’s Heart Fund until 1994) brought 643 children from 23 countries to Minnesota for treatment. Over the next 9 years, an additional 814 children were treated in their own countries during medical missions. A new approach allows us to make greater impact. In 2003 we began training medical teams, making it possible for even more children to be helped in their own country. In 2018 alone, medical teams that we trained in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam served over 135,000 children.
Share your story on our 50 Years Blog! If you were a host family or if you have a Children’s HeartLink story or photos, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.