Our volunteer medical team

Dr Noel Bayley

Honorary medical adviser

How and when did you become involved in the East Timor Hearts Fund?

I first went to East Timor in 2000, the year after independence. I'd been interested for some time in doing some pro bono work in the developing world.

I think, like many middle class Australians, I have a sense of being absurdly privileged in comparison to most of the world's citizens, through no virtue of my own. It seems to me that the least I can do is to try in some small measure to share my good fortune.

Initially I was involved with a small clinic in the hills above Gleno, southwest of Dili, and apart from helping out in the clinic there, my wife Yve and I became involved in supporting a clean water project for the local community. That has led to a continuing interest in similar projects in East Timor, in cooperation with friends from the Rotary movement in Warrnambool, who share our passion for providing simple infrastructure which profoundly changes people's quality of life and health prospects.

It became apparent to me that there was a large burden of untreated cardiac disease in East Timor, a great deal of it due to rheumatic fever, a destructive disease of the heart valves resulting from skin infections in early childhood.

Since the assessment and treatment of heart disease is my principal area of professional expertise, I decided to get involved in diagnosing and arranging surgery for young adults with conditions readily treatable in Australia, but leading to inevitable death at a young age with the available resources in East Timor.

 

What does your role entail?

I have made about 30 trips to East Timor over the years; have had the privilege of seeing many patients (hundreds, at this point) with cardiac disease, and the real joy of being able, with the generosity of colleagues and hospitals in Australia, to arrange curative surgery for a significant number of young adults.

 

In many ways, the work I do in Timor parallels my Australian professional life. But I see the opportunity to use my skills in an unpaid capacity, especially in East Timor where, I believe Australians have a real responsibility to help, as one of the great joys and privileges of my life.

Quite apart from the fact that the Timorese are our nearest neighbours, and thus have a strong claim on our generosity, anybody who takes the trouble to read the history of the Australian involvement in the Second World War would, I believe, agree that there is a debt to be paid.

 

What are your passions and interests outside work?

Outside my professional life, I have the delight of a family, including my wife Yve who has been the powerhouse in the ongoing clean water projects and an enthusiastic supporter of the cardiac services.

I have two children Kate and Nic; Nic also has been involved in helping with clinics.

I am a keen bushwalker, gardener, not too bad a cook, and love good literature and music with a very Catholic taste in both.

 

Dr Alan Appelbe

Cardiologist

How and when did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

As a medical student in 1982 I spent three months in Africa working in hospitals. I was inspired by experience and intended to so volunteer work again. Thirty years were to elapse before I saw a note by Noel Bayley, East Timor Hearts Fund's honorary medical adviser, on the Cardiac Society website looking for cardiologists. I have known Noel for many years and it seemed like the perfect time to become involved. Having experienced my first trip to Timor in 2015, and seeing desperately ill young people with valvular heart disease, I regret waiting 30 years to return to volunteer work.

 

What does your role entail?

I have a particular interest in heart ultrasounds, valvular heart disease and congenital heart disease and I am part of the team that travels to Timor. I help with assessment of the patients. This involves listening to their hearts and performing an ultrasound.

 

What are your passions and interests outside work?

I am married with three grown children. We enjoy bike riding and bushwalking. We have had a Trust for Nature covenant on our property for 25 years and so we spend a lot of time propagating, planting and weeding 20 acres of remnant vegetation near Geelong in Victoria, Australia.        

 

Dr Liz Paratz

Cardiology registrar

How and when did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

As a medical registrar rotating to Warrnambool Hospital several years ago, I worked for Dr Noel Bayley. I was inspired by the massive amount of work he has put into creating ETHF, and the grit and dedication of the whole team over many years to save lives.

As an advanced trainee in cardiology, it has been a perfect fit for me to join the team on multiple trips to Timor-Leste to run clinics and assist with research. It's a privilege and an honour working with the East Timor Hearts Fund team, and I can say with certainty that the clinical experience I've gained in East Timor will make me a far better cardiologist.

 

What does your role entail?

I am part of the volunteer medical team working in the clinics assessing patients. I interview and examine patients, then perform echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds). We would typically see hundreds of patients in an East Timor Hearts Fund visit over several days.

 

What are your passions and interests outside work?

I love learning languages, and am trying to learn some phrases in Tetum. After being laughed at by lots of Timorese children, I have discovered that my name 'Liz' is very similar to 'liis' which is Tetum for onion! I am also slowly cooking my way through my much-loved Ottolenghi cookbooks, and love any chance to travel with my fiance Bruce.

 

Professor Andrew Cochrane AM

Surgeon

How and when did you become involved with East Timor Hearts Fund?

I first became involved in overseas charitable cardiac work in 2000, through the Sydney Adventist Hospital outreach program, and have been a member of many cardiac teams to countries including Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, PNG and Myanmar since then.

I was asked to join a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) paediatric cardiac team to East Timor in 2003, and have been the "team leader" for annual visits since that time, doing simple cardiac operations at the Dili National Hospital. This exposed me to the broader situation in East Timor, and I became involved with other groups such as Dr Dan Murphy's Bairo Pite Clinic (where I now serve on the board and I am a major donor). I also started to raise funds for the Dili Hospital, establishing a fund through RACS, and running an annual concert. Unfortunately efforts to establish a visiting open heart surgery team to East Timor have not been successful.

Throughout most of this time I have also been involved in operating on children and adults brought to Australia for heart surgery through a variety of groups – Children First Foundation, ROMAC / Rotary and more recently East Timor Hearts Fund. These operations have been done at RCH (up to 2008), Epworth Hospital and Monash Medical Centre.

 

How many East Timorese patients have you treated?

I haven't been counting, but I have operated on about 60 patients in country, and about 10 patients (mainly adolescents or young adults) in Australia.

In addition I have seen many other patients through clinics at both the Dili National Hospital and the Bairo Pite Clinic.

 

Why do you think this work is important and what makes it rewarding for you?

The work is important for many reasons – the proximity of a much poorer neighbour (East Timor) to ourselves; the hardship and damage that East Timor suffered over many years when its plight was ignored by Australian governments; the contributions that East Timorese made to aid Australians in World War II, and a desire to apply one's skills to help others in less developed/fortunate countries.

 

What are your passions and interests outside work?

Distance running including Veterans competition, kayaking including the annual Murray Marathon, swimming.

Other philanthropic activities, including administration of a charitable trust with my sister, which provides scholarships for university and in particular music education scholarships and prizes in memory of our mother, who was a concert pianist. I regularly attend these events to present some of these awards (VCE Scholarships for Music Performance and Music Composition, the Margaret Schofield Scholarship of the Melba Opera Trust, annual Chopin competition prize at the Ballarat South Street competition, Lieder Society prizes for best accompanists).

 

Dr Simon Eggleton

Cardiologist

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

I was searching for an opportunity to volunteer when I came across a post on our society’s website looking for cardiologists to help in Timor-Leste.

I am fortunate to have skills which can help others and wanted to give back to society. East Timor Hearts Fund seemed like the perfect place to do this. It’s a small, young country that has only basic medical care, one of our closest neighbours and that has helped Australia in the past.

 

What does your role entail?

As part of the volunteer medical team I travel to Timor-Leste to help identify patients in need of cardiac care. This also involves following up those who have already undergone a procedure. As the point of contact, I arrange the procedures for those coming to Sydney. Lastly, I’m part of the board clinical governance committee.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

Spend time with the family, walk our dog, exercise and travel.

Professor Richard (Rick) Harper

Emeritus Director of Cardiology, Monash Medical Centre

How and when did you become involved in the East Timor Hearts Fund?

I became involved when Noel Bayley asked me if I would be willing to perform balloon mitral valvuloplasty on patients with mitral stenosis from East Timor.

 

How many East Timorese patients have you treated?

Approximately 10.

 

Why do you think this work is important and what makes it rewarding for you?

It is a great experience to see a severely ill patient get better. The patients are always so humble and non- demanding. Their gratitude at getting better is wonderful to behold.

 

What are your passions and interests outside work?

Sport (mainly golf), gardening and literature.