In June 2009, Renae Hightower from Fayetteville, Arkansas, embarked on a mission to the Peruvian Amazon to provide medical and dental care and community outreach. The mission was a success, but two months later, Renae began experiencing flu-like symptoms. 11 days later, she found herself in the emergency room at a local hospital. She was sick with malaria, despite the fact that she had taken anti-malarial medicine while traveling. Five days in the hospital, a case of pneumonia, and six weeks of sick leave later, her symptoms began to disappear.
All clear. Or so she thought.
Four months passed, and the symptoms returned. This time, Renae was diagnosed with a different strain of malaria. But thanks to an early diagnosis and immediate treatment, Renae was well in two weeks. Renae had been infected with a very deadly strain of malaria, and without the treatment she received, she would have died.
In Africa — where someone dies of malaria every 45 seconds — patients infected with the disease may not have the means or access to the immediate, advanced medical treatment Renae received. That’s why Nothing But Nets focuses on preventing malaria infection through the use of life-saving, insecticide-treated bed nets.
Inspired by her experiences and her faith, Renae decided to take action to prevent others from becoming as sick as she had been. Thanks to Renae and the members of her church, Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, more than 300 lives will be saved by the nets they’ve sent to the Central African Republic this year.