In March, Deakin University medical student Susan Potter went to Timor-Leste as part of our volunteer medical team. Here are her reflections on the experience, and of seeing the final steps in patient Maria's journey to health.
Last week I had the extraordinary opportunity to observe the heart surgery of Maria, one of our East Timor Heart Fund patients whom I met in March in Dili. The whole experience, from Dili to now, has me in awe of the hard working professionals donating their time and vast skills to help these patients. In Dili, Dr Noel Bayley’s warmth and compassion, while he screened over 100 Timorese for the sixteenth year running, was beyond inspirational. Last week Dr Cheng Hon Yap and the cardiac surgical team at University Hospital Geelong performed open heart surgery on one of these patients, which I was privileged to observe. From nursing staff, to anaesthetists, to surgeons and theatre technicians, the entire production was supremely inconceivable even for a medical student who has learnt about this surgery. I was left absolutely gob-smacked. It made me very aware of the amazing medical resources we have at our finger-tips in Australia and the great privilege we have to be able to share these with our less fortunate neighbours. I feel very grateful to East Timor Hearts Fund and all the individuals involved who allowed me to be part of this generous gift to Maria.