Thanks to you, Robei Rutio lives!
Without volunteer cardiologist Dr. Steven Compton in Anchorage, Alaska, and the many Pacific Islands Medical Aid supporters who contributed to her airfare, this 25-year-old lady from a small village on an island in the central Pacific would not have been able to have the life-saving heart surgery she needed.
Robei’s surgery at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage over the Christmas holiday was a complete success, according to Dr. Compton. Robei had been suffering from congestive heart failure, getting weaker and weaker every day, with a very poor prognosis without surgical intervention.
She now has two new heart valves, is doing great, and is scheduled to return to Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in Kiribati with her husband before the end of the month.
Thank you everyone, including the good people at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who arranged for Robei and her husband to enter the U.S. so that she could be saved. And a special thanks to Pat and Annette Maddox of Tyler, Texas for their generous support.
Doctor’s Report by Dr. Steven Compton, MD, FACC, FACP, FHRS
Robei Rutio had been suffering from congestive heart failure related to rheumatic heart disease.
She was looking at a very poor prognosis without surgical intervention.
Robei’s surgery was delayed a few days after we found a dental infection requiring extraction of a molar, in order to avoid contamination of her two new heart valves.
During her surgery, her cardiac output almost doubled, which is a very good sign for her.
While she was in the operating room, her husband Michael went to the jewelry store and bought her a wedding ring, which was a very exciting surprise when she woke up.
(We are told that Michael’s gesture brought the O.R. nurses to tears).
Robei had a remarkably rapid recovery and was discharged to hospital housing a week after surgery.
She is now almost three weeks out from replacement of her aortic and mitral valves. She left the hospital after one week and reports a marked improvement in her breathing and level of energy.
We have been getting her out to explore Alaska a little bit, and to help with rehab. She and her husband have learned the benefits of down parkas and winter boots!
Robei and her husband Michael have been exploring the ethnic restaurants in town, and have sampled Italian, Thai, Mexican, Polynesian, and several pizza and burger joints. Pizzas and tacos seem to be favorites. They have also been to the homes of Michael Schoder, Chris Lawson and several others for home-cooked fare.
She and Michael came to Alyeska Ski Resort and rode the ski tram to the top of the mountain to enjoy lunch and a view of seven glaciers plus Turnagain Arm, a glacial fjord. They also attended a Nordic ski jumping practice and the City of Anchorage New Year Ice and Fireworks Festival.
Shawn Davis, a Christmas Island fishing client, is showing them around Fairbanks, which is expected to remain ‘warm’ during the visit — a bone chilling 5 degrees f.
We keep reminding them that they will be warm the rest of their lives!
Many thanks to Dr. Gregory Misbach, cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. William Pease, cardiac anesthesiologist, and the leadership and staff of Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage for covering the preoperative expenses, food and housing for Robei and her husband.
Much of the preoperative logistical support has been provided by Chris Lawson, RN, and Michael Schoder, both of whom have fished at Christmas Island.