We’ll only be a few minutes, just enough time for a sip of hot coffee, or jebena as it’s called here, named after the ceramic cup which it is made and kept hot in.
Ache is 14 years old.
She arrived at our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum on Valentine’s Day, just a few weeks before COVID-19 turned into a real medical crisis for the whole world. To get from Chad to Sudan, Ache hopped on a plane alongside her brother who wanted to be by her side for the whole journey.
At the end of February, after we’d performed all the pre-surgery checks, we took Ache into the operating theatre to replace her mitral valve and repair her tricuspid valve.
The operation went well. But before we would let her go home she had to stay here in Sudan for a while. After spending more than a month regaining her strength at the guesthouse, she was at last able to hug her family again when they came to Khartoum to pick her up.
As soon as international flights start to run from Khartoum airport again, Ache and her brother will go back to their home in Chad, with plane tickets provided by a generous donor.
But it’s not goodbye for us. Ache will continue to return to the Centre for routine post-operative checks, and will receive a full check-up from a cardiologist in September.
There’s a saying that ‘what the eye sees, the heart keeps’. If that’s true, we hope that Ache will keep the happy memory of us in her heart even when she grows up to be an adult. We hope her eyes will always look ahead and that she’ll find happiness through her courage and strength.