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School Medical Checkups Help Detect Congenital Heart Disease

The term ‘congenital’ means the condition is present from birth. Ms Veronika first learned of her Melisa’s condition through a general medical checkup at her school this year.
26 Sep 2022 16:15
School Medical Checkups Help Detect Congenital Heart Disease
From left: Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, Melisa Brown and Eteci Veronika at the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani children’s hospital in Nasese, Suva and Litia Tinai and her son Sakeasi Rokoili at the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani children’s heart hospital on September 25, 2022. Photo: Jone Salusalu

Eteci Veronika is glad she made the right choice of opting for surgery over traditional medicine to treat her daughter’s congenital heart disease.

Ms Veronika travelled all the way from Bainivurowai, Wainunu in Bua to Suva with her daughter, Melisa Brown, where a successful congenital heart defect corrective surgery was performed.

Thanks to the free surgery at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital in Nasese, more children like Melisa have been given more meaning to life.

 

Congenital heart disease is a general term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal way the heart works.

The term ‘congenital’ means the condition is present from birth. Ms Veronika first learned of her Melisa’s condition through a general medical checkup at her school this year.

“When I was told she has congenital heart disease, I felt emotional,” Ms Veronika said.

“The teachers called me in and I couldn’t contain my emotion.”

 

When they told young Melisa, she took in stride.

“Every time she’ll go to school, she will tell her friends that she would be traveling to Suva for her surgery,” she said.

“It was not until we made the trip last Sunday that she finally grasped reality and that’s where she cried.”

 

Before they travelled, her husband was hesitant.

“He insisted on herbal medicine but now I’m thankful we made the decision for her to come to this hospital,” Ms Veronika said.

“The doctors, nurses and staff at this hospital are so kind and humble, they are so welcoming.

“I wouldn’t have thought of going anywhere else for my daughter’s surgery because here it’s free, who knows how much I would pay for this treatment overseas.”

 

Sakeasi Rokoili

Mother and son, Litia Tinai and Sakeasi Rokoili, travelled from Nawaisomo, Naitasiri for the procedure.

Like Melisa, the six-year-old was also diagnosed during a routine school medical checkup.

Ms Tinai knew that her son had some kind of medical problem but she could never get to the bottom of it.

 

Young Sakeasi often experienced shortness of breath and some- times would have nose bleeding scenarios.

“As his mother, I knew that he was sick, I could sense it and feel from time to time,” Ms Tinai said.

“When he was six months old that ‘s when his health issues started.

 

“He is the only one from his two other siblings who is always admitted at the hospital.”

She said when Sakeasi was four, his health improved but it was not until he was in Year One last year that she was relayed the news.

“There was a team of medical professionals visiting the school and they first informed me about his condition,” Ms Tinai said.

 

“I didn’t pay much attention to it because of the COVID-19 restrictions but this year again the visiting medical professionals came to his school and by this time they wrote me a letter about my son’s condition, and for us to visit the children’s hospital at Nasese.”

She was grateful to the hospital and its medical professionals for giving her family hope describing it blessing for Fiji.

Around 200 children are born with CHD in Fiji, while around 2,500 are born with CHD throughout the Pacific.

 

Story By: jone.salusalu@fijisun.com.fj



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