In Summary
  • Damaris spent six days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after a successful open heart surgery.
  • Her story was published in the Daily Nation and this attracted several well-wishers who helped her clear the hospital bill.
  • I recently published my first book, The Power of Bouncing Back which seeks to give hope that no matter how far below you sink, you can always rise up.
  • Do you have feedback on this article? Please email:

Damaris Muema was ironing clothes one afternoon in 2016 when she began experiencing some rapid heart palpitations. She set down the iron box and lowered herself to a nearby seat. The pounding in her chest persisted, making her feel faint.

She knew at that moment that something was terribly wrong. Panic washed over her making her forget the special occasion of the day; it was her 24th birthday.

“I was worried and at the same time very confused. Here I was in a foreign country in Dubai with no one to confide in except my boss with whom I'd lived with for only three months. How would he react to the news that I was suddenly feeling unwell? But what choice did I have? I decided to take the risk and approach him. My boss rushed me to the hospital and upon examination, it was discovered that I had a hole in my heart.”


Her first thought was to fly back home to seek treatment but the doctor advised against it saying that her condition put her at great risk. Furthermore, Damaris needed an urgent surgery to avoid further complications such as a heart failure or a stroke.

She stayed on for six months while taking medication and once her health stabilised, she flew back to Kenya.


“When I landed back home, I checked into hospital for fresh tests. I was still in denial. An ultrasound confirmed my worst fears, I indeed had a hole in my heart. I started attending weekly check-up visits at Moyo Clinic in Mombasa.”

The Coast General Provincial Hospital (CGPH) was scheduled to perform the very first open heart surgery in two months’ time and this made Damaris very hopeful.

“Unfortunately, I missed out on this first surgery which was free of charge. My family felt that the surgery was too great a risk and warned me against 'digging my own grave’. They expressed doubts in the hospital’s capacity to conduct the surgery given that this was their first open heart operation. I was reassured by their plans to have a fundraiser and send me to India for treatment. However, these plans never materialised. Again, the reason they gave me was that the operation was too risky and they would not bear the thought of losing me.”

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