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Congenital Heart Specialists To Conduct Life-saving Surgeries

Congenital Heart Specialists  To Conduct Life-saving Surgeries
April 09
16:36 2018

AN international surgical team is scheduled to arrive in the country this week to conduct life-saving surgeries on a group of children born with anomalies in the structure of their hearts.

The team of 16 specialists, led by Dr Ashish Katewa, one of the world’s most experienced paediatric heart surgeons, will begin the screening process of children with congenital heart conditions on Wednesday.

This was announced today by the Sai Prema Foundation (Fiji), a non-governmentorganisation inspired to serve the poor through a three-pronged mission, one of which is to provide meaningful support for health care.

“We are really humbled to be undertaking our second project that will save the lives of dozens of children in Fiji,” said Sumeet Tappoo, one of the foundation’s directors.

About 80 children have already been identified by the Health Ministry but the number is expected to grow as the public becomes aware of the team’s visit.

The charity heart surgeries are organised as part of the foundation’s Gift of Life initiative.

“The team that we are bringing to Fiji that is representing the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital (based in Raipur, India) consists of world-class surgeons, doctors and specialist nurses from India, USA, Australia and Oman,” said Mr


He said Fiji was extremely fortunate to have Dr Katewa and his team return as planned to conduct the complex surgeries, and, at the same time, train the select local medical professionals.

In 2016, Dr Katewa and his team gave 23 children a new lease of life after their heart defects were successfully operated on.

Mr Tappoo said the success of the Gift of Life programme would not have been possible without the assistance and cooperation of the Health Ministry and the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital.

“As the Director of the Foundation, I am proud to say that Sai Prema Foundation Fiji is committed to making a difference to the underprivileged and needy children of Fiji,” he said. “We are keen to be able to provide this much-needed service again and to assist our health professionals in their efforts.”

Mr Tappoo said the foundation feels extremely humbled to be able to help the affected children and their families. He recalled an emotional encounter with the mother of one of the toddlers after the successful operation.

“Her joy knew no bounds,” he said. “She told me, ‘I earn $5,000 a year and there was no way I could afford surgery for my child’. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Mr Tappoo said the ‘Gift of Life’ programme is literally a new lease of life for these children and their families who cannot afford overseas treatment.

“Unfortunately, we do not have paediatric cardiac surgery services in Fiji and families are unable to afford treatment overseas,” he added.

The cost of congenital heart surgery overseas is within the vicinity of $100,000, inclusive of the associated costs of travel, accommodation and post-operative needs.


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