A Program of the Medtronic Foundation

Thomas Okello
Bakken Honoree Thomas Okello 

Thomas Okello, 36

2015 Bakken Invitation Honoree

Kampala, Uganda
Charity: Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry

Medical Condition: Damaged heart valves due to Rheumatic Heart Disease
Medical Therapy: Heart valves

I Want to Share My Inspiring Story

Thomas's "extra life"Inspires Me

At just 16 years old, Thomas received a double valve replacement as a result of severe rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Many of his fellow Ugandans with RHD, however, do not receive this life-saving treatment. Thomas, who is now a cardiologist, began working with Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry to raise awareness about RHD and inspire others to take care of their hearts. With the patient support branch of the organization, Thomas encourages people with RHD to visit their physicians regularly and take the medicine they need to live a healthy life.

Thomas's Story

“I have rheumatic heart disease and had a double valve replacement. Because I have metal valves, I have to regularly take Coumadin. That requires a lot of attention and it has made me look out for other patients with a similar condition. My treatment was a miracle and allows me to live a healthy, normal life. I want others to have this type of access to care.

“Because I consider myself lucky, I offer myself to my community. I hope to bring awareness to others with rheumatic heart disease and use my condition as an example. I encourage other patients to take the medicine they need and visit their doctors regularly in order to live a healthy life.

“With the Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry at the Uganda Heart Institute, I use my extra life to support patients with rheumatic heart disease by helping open avenues for access to care they need. We support patients so they stay compliant with life-saving medications.

“An RHD diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your life.“

Thomas's words of inspiration

Treatment is a miracle that allows you to live a normal and productive life.

Thomas believes the treatment he received for rheumatic heart disease is a miracle that has given him health and strength. He hopes others, especially in Uganda, will have access to the care they need.

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inspire others

$20,000 Grant Makes an Impact

The Uganda Heart Institute serves as a center of excellence for the provision of comprehensive medical services to patients with cardiovascular and thoracic diseases. It offers research and training in cardiovascular and thoracic medicine at an affordable cost to facilitate service delivery and enable continuous development of the Institute.


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*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you. Please refer to Important Safety Information.