Media release - second time lucky for Natalina

Media Release 2 February 2016   

Second time lucky for Natalina  

Forty-year-old Natalina Hornai was the first patient to benefit from a new partnership between Barwon Health and East Timor Hearts Fund; Australia's only medical aid charity dedicated to providing heart surgery for the people of Timor-Leste (East Timor) in Australia. 

The partnership, formed in November 2015, means that Natalina was the first of six patients from East Timor to have life-saving heart surgery this year. 

Using the expertise of our highly skilled cardiothoracic surgical team and clinical staff, it is hoped successful surgery places Natalina on a pathway to a healthy life. 

Natalina received a mitral balloon procedure at MonashHeart in Melbourne in 2012. East Timor Hearts Fund has stayed in contact with Natalina and continued to monitor her health, which is why she is now coming to Australia again for a valve replacement. 

Natalina, a shopkeeper from Baucau in eastern Timor-Leste, is the sole carer for her daughter, Aida, 15, and is determined to continue to support her through school. She said she hopes receiving this treatment for her disease will mean she doesn’t have to worry about any further health issues. 

“It’s been very hard for me, because of my heart disease I’ve been feeling tired all the time and breathless,” Natalina said.  

“Already I feel so much better and I’m looking forward to getting back to Timor-Leste and living a healthy life with my daughter.” 

Barwon Health Chief Operating Officer Peter Watson said the partnership will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of East Timor patients.  

“We are excited to join East Timor Hearts Fund on their mission, and this partnership is instilling our values through presenting a sense of community and compassion to our neighbours in East Timor,” Peter said.  

“Many Barwon Health staff including surgeons, anaesthetists, intensivists and nurses have been involved in Natalina’s care, and they too are excited to be contributing to this great cause.”  

Ingrid Svendsen, East Timor Hearts Fund Board Chair, said they are enormously grateful to Barwon Health and to all of the donors who have supported their work providing care for patients like Natalina. 

“It’s been a privilege to have been by Natalina’s side for her journey to health. Sending a mum home healthy to her daughter is so rewarding,” Ingrid said.  

Natalina was treated for her heart condition at University Hospital Geelong on Monday 1 February and is making a promising recovery.  

“I feel like the luckiest woman in Timor-Leste, to have had this opportunity not once but twice,” Natalina said.   

Ends 

Media contact – 03 4215 1119   

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