Timorese dad and son in heart health double act

Only a year after his 13-year-old son received life-saving heart surgery in Australia, Timorese father of six Filomeno Nascimento is also preparing to fly to Melbourne to have a dangerous heart tumour removed.

 The CEO of East Timor Hearts Fund, Stuart Thomson, said East Timor Hearts Fund was glad to once again be able to help the Nascimento family.

 “While it’s not uncommon for us to provide patients with follow-up surgery as their health changes over the years, a dad and son double is definitely a first for us,” Mr Thomson said.

“The operation that Filomeno needs is highly specialised and not available in Timor-Leste, so it’s wonderful for Filomeno and his family that we are again able to assist.”

Last July aspiring engineer Paulo, then 13, captured the hearts of Australians, who donated to give him specialist surgery for an electrical fault in his heart. Afterwards, Paulo fulfilled a dream, having a kick with Western Bulldogs star and East Timor Hearts Fund ambassador Lin Jong.

Shortly after Paulo’s surgery his 56-year-old dad Filomeno had a routine checkup in Dili, with the visiting East Timor Hearts Fund volunteer medical team. Although he had no symptoms, the heart check revealed a potentially deadly myxoma, or heart tumour.

“At first I felt a little afraid, knowing I have such a serious heart condition,” Filomeno said.

“But knowing about the excellent care that Paulo received, I knew that I’d be well looked after in Australia.

“Paulo encouraged me, and so did wife Regina, who travelled to Australia with Paulo last July. Paulo told me ‘the Australian doctors will help you’.”

Filomeno said he had prayed for the opportunity to come to Australia for surgery. “I am so happy, I think is a miracle,” he said.

Mr Thomson said Filomeno’s condition was serious but “eminently treatable”.

“He will get the best of care in Australia and, according to our medical team, his prognosis after surgery will be good.

“We’re all looking forward to giving Paulo and his brothers and sisters a healthy dad again.”

Photo credit: Hugh Miley

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