The volunteer medical team arrived in Dili last Thursday morning, after the red eye to Darwin the previous evening.
Our team comprises Louise Creati, a cardiologist from St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne; Liz Paratz, cardiologist in training; and administrators Julie Kean and Nicki Mock. We arrived sleep deprived but keen.
Our first day was a busy clinic, where we saw mostly previous patients, all doing very well. On Friday we saw a significant number of new patients needing life-saving surgery, and a few who are just about to make the trip to Melbourne or Sydney.
Yesterday, we made an historic trip to Oecusse, a Timorese enclave in Indonesian west Timor. We believe it is the first time that cardiologists have visited this isolated region.
The president of the Oecusse special economic region, Dr Mari Alkatiri, formally greeted us at the airport.
We flew in and back, as the ferry would have kept us there for three days, and impacted unreasonably on the Dili workload.
It was a good clinic, well organised by the local hospital, and another couple of patients were identified for surgery.
Sadly, we saw a couple of teenagers with such advanced disease that they are beyond surgical help.
This is avoidable, with proper preventative programs, early assessment, and good access to surgical treatment where needed, and serves as a reminder of why we are here.
We have two more days of clinics before we return to Australia.
We are heartened (so to speak) and energised to see so many patients we've provided surgery for in recent years, and by those we are arranging treatment for.
Thank you for your support,
Dr Noel Bayley, honorary medical adviser