UP CLOSE

Up Close: BYU Project Tests Samoan Children For Heart Conditions

Feb 12, 2020, 9:02 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2022, 11:56 pm

PROVO, Utah – A BYU project called the “Rheumatic Relief” project is helping to heal children’s hearts and save hundreds of lives on the islands of Samoa.

Lori Allen founded the program along with her husband, Dr. Marvin Allen.

“We are trying to find children who have damaged hearts, who are in their uniforms going to school, and they have no idea,” Lori Allen said.

She said the kids have no idea that their hearts are actually sick and can only get better through proper treatment.

To reach all of the children is a monumental task, Allen said.

The program sends BYU students and medical professionals to Samoa once a year to screen thousands of children’s hearts. About 50 people will be going this year.

Allen said Samoa is one of the leading countries in the world with heart disease among children 5-15 years old. The children are not born with the disease but get it like a common cold, starting with a strep throat.

“In the short term, we are trying to find children who can still benefit from penicillin treatment. In the long term, we are trying to prevent it,” Allen said.

Once tests are taken in Samoa, DNA samples are brought back to a BYU lab for testing. The information can be critical in knowing how to treat the symptoms, and maybe figure out what’s causing it.

Students said the experience is one they will never forget.

“It’s heartbreaking to see those severe cases, but to know that we can actually do something – refer them to surgery, give them the penicillin, making sure they are getting the treatment – it’s amazing,” said Lexi Stout, a graduate student who went last year. “Even though it’s only two weeks that we are there, it’s a lifelong difference that we are giving them.”

BYU is working with the Ministry of Health in Samoa to try and understand what is happening. The hope is to train local medical professionals on how to detect the disease.

The next group of BYU students will leave on April 23 and return on May 9.

For more on this project or how to get involved, go to https://biology.byu.edu/rheumatic-relief.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Up Close

(Becky Hansen, Smile Creations Portrait Studio, St. George, Utah)...
Angie Denison

Up Close with Shawn Bradley

Last year, NBA legend Shawn Bradley was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in St. George. The accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. In an exclusive visit, KSL returns to the crash site with Shawn and his wife.
2 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: Girls Wrestling Booming In Utah

Once a real shocker in high school sports, girls wrestling has becoming one of the most popular growing sports in the country. That’s why the season may be over but practice continues for many girls.
3 years ago
Albee Bostrom and Sissy McDade turned their love of thrift store shopping into a business: Thrift H...
Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: Young Entrepreneurs Turn Thrift Store Shopping Into Full-Time Business

A simple hobby of thrift store shopping has turned into a full-time business for a couple of young entrepreneurs in Utah County. They’ve now opened up their very own unique thrift store with a flash to the past. We are talking about the 1980s and 1990s era.
3 years ago
Courtney Kimball and her sister Kym Frey help women living in the slums of San Pedro Sula, Honduras...
Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: ‘One Common Thread’ Organization Helping Women In Poverty

Two Utah sisters - one now living in one of the most dangerous cities in the world - are helping to bring women out of poverty by teaching them a skill that’s giving them new hope.
3 years ago
...
Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: West Jordan Girl Sings Her Way Into National Spotlight

An eight-year-old girl from West Jordan has won an incredible award. She became the Grand Champion Vocalist of the year in the 25th annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio, Texas.
3 years ago
Man with dwarfism is an accomplished collegiate-level pianist and composer (Courtesy: KSL TV)...
Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: Man With Dwarfism Overcomes Challenges To Play Piano

A Utah man suffering with a curved spine and deformed arms, legs and hands, has somehow managed to become an accomplished collegiate-level pianist and composer – writing his own notes and singing his own songs.
3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Up Close: BYU Project Tests Samoan Children For Heart Conditions