Heart Hero – Joseph Mucumbitsi

More than 1000 people have volunteered with Team Heart over the last dozen-plus years, donating thousands of hours to run this program. We thank every single individual.

As we encourage participation in the Pumping Heart Challenge, today we spotlight Team Heart Hero Joseph Mucumbitsi, the Rwandan cardiologist who has been a visionary for the organization since its start in 2008.

As a Pediatric Cardiologist, Joseph has seen first hand the ravages of what happens to a family as they struggle to provide care; he has witnessed lost lives and family’s rapidly diminished resources used to save a child. Knowing that the rest of the world has access to care that could save these children is more than troubling, and serves as his catalyst to advance cardiac care in Rwanda. Joseph fights for the rights of Rwandan children; he inspires young physicians through his advocacy and provides mentorship in his work with the Rwanda NCD Alliance.

While we struggle with the snail’s pace we have accomplished, the reality is, we must all work together to achieve our goals. Every effort makes a difference. Every dollar advances Joseph and Team Heart’s vision to address the burden of cardiac disease in Rwanda.

Joseph believes Team Heart’s spirit and dedication should inspire everyone to help others.

What attracted you to the cause and Team Heart in particular?
I was coordinator of the Rwanda Cardiac Surgery Program when Team Heart joined the program in 2008. Team Heart helped to grow its comprehensive and sustainable approach, with a particular commitment to local healthcare team education, patients’ social support and research.

What are your activities and what do they involve?
I am one of the Cardiologists involved in patient screening, pre-selection and follow up. I collaborate in research projects and have been a Team Heart board member since 2008.

What motivates you to stay involved?
Team Heart and I share the dream of building a sustainable and comprehensive Cardiac Care Center of Excellence and giving heart surgery to all patients in Rwanda and beyond.

In your opinion, what is the most important work Team Heart does?
Team Heart provides life-saving interventions to young patients who have no other chance to survive. Most importantly, it is the organization’s long term commitment to build a sustainable cardiac center of excellence.

What do you hope Team Heart will achieve in the near future? In the long term?
I hope Team Heart can reach an effective agreement with King Faisal Hospital, Kigali and the Ministry of Health to set the foundations of the long term sustainable cardiac center of excellence.

What is a stand-out memory from your time with Team Heart?
A young patient from a poor family, with severe triple valves Rheumatic heart disease, was inoperable in Rwanda. Ceeya and Chip Bolman decided to take him to the USA, took care of him before, during and after surgery and after he returned to Rwanda, the Bolman’ supported him so he could catch up with school. Today, this young man has finished medical school. I hope one writes a book of his life and pay tribute to Team Heart Founders.

How will you pump your heart during the challenge, September 22-29?
I am walking at least 150 min per week.

"I am thankful to Team Heart for saving my life and allow me to return to my studies energetically and it does me proud to be studying public health"

TEAM HEART PATIENT

“I consider being a part of Team Heart to be the biggest achievement in my nursing career, and one of the best parts of my life!”

KRISTIN CALHENO RN

“After I returned from Rwanda, each time I passed my to do list, my pencil hovered to cross off Rwanda--I could not do it. Rwanda was not finished.”

MARIA STEELMAN 2012

"Rwanda can eradicate rheumatic heart disease in a generation-it is an achievable goal"

DAVID WILSON