Chit Snow is a young woman who suffered from rheumatic heart disease. She went to Chiang Mai twice for treatment. The first trip was for investigation and the second was for heart surgery. She received a valve replacement on 25 January 2012 and stayed in the hospital for six days. Everything went well. Before the surgery, Chit Snow was very tired. She couldn’t do anything and her mother and everyone she knew were certain that she would die. Her family spent a lot of money on ineffective treatment prior to coming to the Mae Tao Clinic and being referred onto Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF).
Following her operation, Chit Snow has more energy and can do everything better. She is also sleeping and eating well. She likes to sew clothes and hopes to be able to earn money and help her mother in the future.
All of her family is happy and surprised at her recovery. Her mother says she is so happy she could cry. Chit Snow and her family have given permission to share her story because her mother thought she would die and now that she hasn’t she wants to tell everyone what happened. Chit Snow has written a thank-you letter to express her feelings. She had a follow-up appointment in March 2012 and has said that when she goes home, she is planning on having a rest.
Chit Snow’s Thank You Letter:
I would like to thank the donors from my heart. I felt like my life was hopeless. Thanks to all the donors, medics, and heart surgeons for giving me hope. I would like to pray for them to have happiness, prosperity, and long lives. Now that I am better, I will be able to care and provide for my parents. Again, thank you very much for treating the heart disease I had been living with for three years. You have kept me alive, and I will continue to pray for you.
Chit Snow War (all healthy now)
Chit Snow’s Story:
Chit Snow is 19 years old and currently lives with her grandmother on the Burma side of the Thai-Burma border. Her younger sister and mother work in a factory on the Thai side of the border; her father works as a farmer in Mon State and supports his parents while her older brother works in Bangkok at a sewing factory (though his income supports his own family and he is not able to support his sisters or parents).
Chit Snow grew up in Mon State where she attended school up to 6th standard (14 years old). When she was fifteen, she came down with a fever and was suffering from swollen and painful joints. Her mother took her to a clinic for treatment and she was given medication which didn’t seem to improve her condition. The family heard about a good Karen doctor in Myawaddy (on the Thai border) and they decided to move to Myawaddy so that Chit Snow could get treatment. Her father stayed behind to continue working to support the family. To travel to Myawaddy, Chit Snow’s mother had to sell many personal possessions including her jewelry. When they arrived in Myawaddy, they rented a room and set about getting Chit Snow treatment.
Chit Snow was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and her treatment plan included monthly injections at the clinic. She continued the injections every month for 8months. However, after 8 months, the doctor informed Chit Snow that the rheumatic fever had damaged her heart and that she would need an operation. He told them to go to the Mae Tao Clinic.
When Chit Snow was 17, she started work in a factory on the Thai side of the border with her sisters – her younger sister was just 12 years old. Chit Snow worked 6 days a week for a meagre wage. Her day started at 8 and she finished around 11pm (with two one-hour breaks for lunch and dinner). Chit Snow and her sisters were responsible for painting children’s toys (made from plaster). The type of paint used required acetone to clean their hands after their work was done. They didn’t use gloves or masks. Chit Snow says that the smell in the factory was very strong and that she had to stop working because she was too sick. Despite travelling out of the factory once a month for her injection, Chit Snow’s condition continued to deteriorate while she was working. Her chest began to feel very tight, she had difficulty breathing and she was always tired. She went to live with her grandmother while her sister and mother continued to work at the factory.
Chit Snow first came to the Mae Tao Clinic in April 2011 suffering from oedema (generalized swelling). In June 2011, her condition became severe and she was admitted to the medical in-patient department for one month. She was suffering from chest pain, fever, palpitations and a persistent cough. She was sent to Mae Sot Hospital for further testing and to get a clearer diagnosis.
Back home in Burma, Chit Snow’s father works as a farmer – he is a daily worker so he picks up whatever work he can on a daily basis. He picks coconuts, grows rice and beans and does other agricultural work. Her father says that Chit Snow became very ‘fat’ (from fluid build-up and swelling) but she has now lost a lot of weight and is now very thin. Her mother says that she wants to accompany her daughter to Chiang Mai because she is worried about her. Before her surgery, Chit Snow said that she had chest pain and that she was short of breath.
Her mother said that she worried about her daughter a lot and felt stressed. She thought that her daughter would die because they didn’t have enough money to afford her treatment. Chit Snow said that she just wanted to get better so that she could continue to work. She wants to get a job sewing garments.