The morning of November 10 was one of grief and pain as 12-year Jessica Ishimwe Igihozo, the little girl whose plight came to light in May last year, following news that her rare condition could not be treated, has finally passed on.
As soon as the news came through along with her pictures breathing from the oxygen supply machine at Kigali Central Teaching Hospital (CHUK), many hearts were touched by the pain the beautiful innocent girl was enduring.
Fundraising efforts to fly her to countries advanced in cardiotherapy such as India were immediately kick-started in various banks and on social network website Facebook while weekend visits by people of all walks of life, groups and celebrities became commonplace at CHUK.
Ishimwe, who had been bedridden at CHUK since last May, was suffering from a deadly heart disease that could not be treated.
In an interview with The New Times, Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, the Chief Paediatric Cardiologist at CHUK, refused to delve into the details of the ‘condition’ because this remains private to the patient and her family but he confirmed it could not be treated.
Only a miracle would have saved Ishimwe because, according to Dr. Rusingiza, her condition is one that could not be treated anywhere in the world.
Like any mother would react, Ishimwe’s mother Bernadette Murekatete, could not believe it when the doctors last year pronounced that nothing could be done to treat her little angel’s condition.
Even to the last minute, the mother to the deceased still canvassed for support to at least fly her abroad to no avail. She even abandon her small business to take care of her ailing daughter.
According to the mum, Ishimwe’s problems began when she was six years old and at this point, she thought it was a bone-related disease, until medics at CHUK confirmed that it was a heart problem.
At the time, she started getting treatment and going to school like other children but her condition deteriorated again, prompting her to take her back to hospital more often.
When the doctors pronounced the condition irreversible, Murekatete vehemently locked horns with doctors, questioning their competence, a claim which the Head of the Paediatric Unit at CHUK, Dr Narcisse Muganga, refuted vehemently.
An inside source at the hospital confirmed to The New Times that Ishimwe was suffering from Dextrocardia, a congenital defect in which the heart is situated on the right side of the body and usually has no room to develop as the child grows.
The passing on
But all that came to an end on Thursday morning. Ishimwe finally breathed her last. The news of passing on of the young girl, whose popularity on the social networking site Facebook had grown by multitudes, shocked many.
Hundreds of Facebook users poured their condolences on the social media site while others changed their profile pictures to several of her photos that were distributed on the site. Her account on Facebook was equally littered with condolence messages
“R.I.P Jessica. We loved you so much and may God keep you in his arms in Heaven, you are innocent and you deserve to be included among the Angels. I will always remember you,” wrote Alpha Rwirangira, the Musician and Tusker Project Fame winner.
“R.I.P Jessica Igihozo. I believe we could have done more to save your life but we didn’t....am truly sorry,” wrote Innocent Ninsiima, a youth activist and writer.
“You were such an angel. RIP Igihozo. You are in a better place now,” said Mimi Umuhoza, while Honorine Ngarambe added “May her soul rest in peace, she was very sweet and cheerful. You would visit her and she would have this happy look on her face and chat with you, she would make you leave the ward with hope for the hopeless”.
Dozens of people flocked to her room in the Paediatric Ward at CHUK littering it with flowers and condolence messages.
Efforts to talk to her devastated mother were futile as she was not in position to speak. However, an announcement released by her family indicates that Ishimwe will be laid to rest today at Rusororo Cemetery in Gasabo District.
A requiem mass will be held today at Inkuru Nziza Church in town.