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Small world: How a man from Uganda became a patient at Upstate

MoleculesBeing a minister of a church in Uganda, Morris Bukenya believes in a God who helps people heal. He also realizes his good fortune to live in a world that can be so small.

Bukenya, 54, wound up a patient at Upstate, 6,000 miles from home, because a daughter is friends with a cardiologist in Oswego. Bukenya recovered from heart surgery at the home of Moses Kyobe MD, a native of Uganda.

Bukenya was surprised to learn he had trouble with his heart, though in retrospect he says he shouldn‘t have been. He sometimes would become dizzy for no apparent reason. Sometimes he would break into a sweat, even before doing something strenuous. He would awake some mornings feeling as if he hadn‘t slept.

“My wife sometimes would ask me ‘what‘s wrong?‘ and I would say ‘I feel so bad,‘” Bukenya recalls. Taken individually, each symptom did not seem serious. Grouped together, they pointed toward heart attack.

He sought medical care in Uganda and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. His condition worsened, with chest pains that came and went, so Bukenya‘s daughter arranged for him to see Kyobe. The church took a collection to help defray his expenses. That was in the spring of 2010. Bukenya went home with medication. His condition grew worse and in September, he returned to the United States in September with his wife, Christine.

A stress test and catheterization that revealed blockages of 70 percent and 90 percent in two vessels. “I realized I was looking at death, right at death itself,” Bukenya says.

Charles Lutz MD operated the next day.

Bukenya is feeling much better and healing fast. His recovery includes a plan for losing weight and trimming his diet of salt and sweets. He says he believes in the power of prayer in healing. “I also believe that God works through doctors, that He gives them the brilliancy to see things and do things well.”

Read his story in Upstate's Heart and Vascular Newsletter.