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WHA donates $5,000 To RHD project

The Women’s Hospital Auxiliary represented by Gretchen Makaiwi, Pauline Young and Helga Lefiti, present a donation of $5,000 to the LBJ hospital on Friday, November 21, 2014. The WHA gave the funds to enable the pediatric cardiology team from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU)—in collaboration with LBJ Pediatrics clinic and ASG Department of Health—to follow through with their ongoing Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) eradication project initiated a few years ago by LBJ Pediatrics department.


Hospital CEO Taufete’e John Faumuina was on hand to accept the generous gift, and he thanked the WHA for their unending support of the territory’s only hospital, all accomplished by the hard work of the WHA volunteers.


In addition to the WHA, Starkist Samoa has joined the LBJ pediatricians in their fight to document, treat and eventually eradicate RHD, and has been collecting money in boxes placed in businesses around the island.


Rheumatic heart disease has been virtually eliminated in the U.S. —but in American Samoa it is not only prevalent, but presents the highest rate of RHD in the world.


The pediatric cardiology team from Oregon Health Sciences University (also pictured here) just completed their 6th visit to the Territory, and were able to see 108 patients over a four day period.


Since they began coming to American Samoa in November 2011, the OHSU staff have provided 611 patient encounters for a total of 435 different patients.  With their guidance the LBJ pediatric department has follow-up plans for 303 of these patients, according to Dr. Beth Parker, who also said the rest of the children have been cleared from cardiology unless any new issues arise.


“By far our most common cause for cardiac concern is rheumatic heart disease, and we continue to see about 67% with rheumatic fever converting to rheumatic heart disease, which is consistent with the world-wide average,” she told Samoa News.


“If these patients come in for a simple antibiotic injection every three weeks, those with rheumatic fever will be prevented from developing RHD, and we expect to see regression of heart valve lesions in 50-70% of those with mild to moderate RHD,” stated Dr. Parker.