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Exceptional directors required!

We're recruiting!

Exceptional directors required! As a result of a board skills audit, we are seeking trained and experienced directors with the following expertise:

-- Medical qualifications and experience desirably in the fields of cardiac health, rheumatic heart disease, global or public health.

-- Knowledge and experience of government and bureaucracy and the culture in Timor-Leste, including Timorese or Timorese-Australian candidates.

-- Experience in the area of philanthropy, particularly major donors and corporates.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a dynamic, growing organisation that has an exceptional CEO, a positive board culture and a strong strategic plan.

Applications close on 31 March. Apply here.

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Baths 2 Baths swim update: a message from Paul

**Baths 2 Baths swim update - a message from Paul**

Not the ending I was hoping for, unfortunately another shoulder injury has put an end to the Geelong to Brighton swim. Massive thanks go to the team today Michael Gregory, Michelle A Fullerton, AV, Chris Neesham, Steven Klugman, Spencer Roberts and Eugene Bonollo. Also massive thanks to the Matthew Paynter, Rachael Campbell and the team at Brighton Baths Health Club for all their support. Finally a big thanks has to go to the team at Homely.com.au, without them we would not have had a support boat. To say I am disappointed with the outcome is a massive understatement.

- Paul Hoffman

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Baths 2 Baths swim update: a message from our CEO

**A message from our CEO**

I’d like to commend the courage of our volunteer Paul Hoffman, who last night set out on an incredible 60km solo open water swim to help us to provide life saving heart surgery.

Unfortunately, around 11pm last night, around five hours into the swim, Paul re-injured his shoulder, which he damaged in last year’s attempt at this swim. Paul was unable to continue.

Paul put in six months of training to prepare for the swim, on top of six months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation for his injured arm and shoulder. While the swim has not ended the way any of us had hoped, we are still incredibly grateful to Paul for putting his body on the line to support our cause.

Paul’s swim is over but his ambition of raising $10,000 to provide life-saving heart surgery for a young person from Timor-Leste can still be realised. We’re hoping our friends will boost Paul’s spirits in the most tangible way possible, by donating.

All of us in the East Timor Hearts Fund family wish Paul a speedy recovery.

I would also like to sincerely thank all of the volunteers who assisted the swim, and our generous sponsors, Homely.com.au and Brighton Baths Health Club.

- Stuart Thomson, CEO

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IT'S ON!! Epic 60km solo ocean swim for healthy hearts

IT'S ON!!!

Please come and cheer our courageous volunteer Paul Hoffman as he sets off on his epic 25 hour 60km solo ocean swim for healthy hearts.

6.30PM TODAY (18 March)! Eastern Beach, Geelong.

Donate and leave messages of support here and look out for updates on our Facebook page.

 

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Young, female and very ill: new research profiles our patients

Volunteer medical team member and cardiology registrar Dr Elizabeth Paratz (along with our honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley) has just published some new research looking into prevalence and patterns of cardiac disease in our patients. Liz looked at almost 500 patients going back to 2003.

Here, she explains what she found, and what motivated her to do the research.

 

When I first travelled to Timor-Leste (East Timor), the variety and severity of heart disease we encountered in the clinics was overwhelming for an Australian-trained doctor. In the first morning, I listened to more murmurs of mitral stenosis (a heart valve that has become stiff in opening, usually from rheumatic fever) in three hours than I had encountered in my entire medical career.

Two things really struck me – firstly how young the patients were. The majority of my patients in Australian cardiology are 60 years old and over. We often call our 60 year olds on the ward 'young'. However, in Timor-Leste, the average life expectancy is only about 60.

The other thing that really struck me was how female the clinics were – the majority of our patients in Australian cardiac wards are male. However, in Timor-Leste we were constantly seeing young women – women my age – with severe heart disease, most commonly from rheumatic fever or holes in the heart that had never been repaired. This created lots more issues in their care as we had to plan around their need for pregnancy and childbirth in terms of medications and surgeries.

At the end of each day, we would debrief about the cases we had seen, and we agreed that this was a unique group of patients. We were keen to objectively put together data: were the types of heart disease and patients in East Timor really so different to Australia? Did they resemble other islands like Fiji more? Fortunately, East Timor Hearts Fund honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley and the amazing administrators had been keeping detailed data since the first clinics in 2003, so we had 13 years of data and almost 500 unique patients to examine in our study.

Our data analysis confirmed lots of our anecdotal impressions from the clinics. The patients in the ETHF clinics are young – the typical age is 29 years old. There are many more females compared to Australian practice. And unfortunately, many of them present with very advanced heart disease. One fifth of all the patients seen in the ETHF clinic presented with heart disease so severe they either required immediate referral for surgery or palliative care. In such a young group of people, this is tragic.

Data collection in Timor-Leste has its own unique challenges. For example, our interpreters and clinic coordinators are invaluable in trying to get accurate demographic data from patients. Our very few elderly (over 60 years old) patients would often all insist they were 100 years old. It seems that as soon as you turn 61, you gain the right to call yourself 100! Our interpreters would carefully go through events in Timorese history with them, and fix their age to within about five years.

Our database includes data from Dili, and also several mobile outreach clinics that have been conducted in the districts of Timor-Leste. However, some parts of the country still remain extremely inaccessible due to destroyed roads and bridges etc. In these poorer, inaccessible areas, rates of heart disease may be even higher than what we found in our data collection.

We hope that publication of our research in a major Australian medical journal will help create awareness of the clear importance and severity of heart disease in East Timor. ETHF has also been involved in bigger prospective screening studies set to be published soon, which will also help add to our research knowledge. Ultimately, by publishing and education, we hope to reduce the number of East Timorese turning up to ETHF clinics with inoperable heart disease at very young ages.

 

Read the research abstract.

Read Liz's profile.

 

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Behind the scenes at our screening clinics

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Timor volunteer's epic 60km swim for healthy hearts

Timor volunteer’s epic 60km swim for healthy hearts

7 March 2017

 

Melbourne marathon swimmer Paul Hoffman plans to swim the equivalent of two English Channels to help provide life-saving heart treatment for a young person from Timor-Leste (East Timor).

 

Paul’s epic 60km solo swim will take up to 25 hours, starting from Eastern Beach in Geelong and finishing at Brighton Baths, in bayside Melbourne.

 

A volunteer with East Timor Hearts Fund, Paul said seeing the medical charity transform the lives of young patients inspired him to take on the marathon swim.

 

“Some of these patients are not much older than my own kids, and quite often all they need is a fairly simple heart procedure so that they can get on with their lives and fulfil their aspirations,” Paul said.

 

“I’m lucky enough to have great health, and I’m happy there is something I can do to give others a second chance at a healthy life as well.”

 

This will be only the second time anyone has swum from Geelong to Melbourne, and is Paul’s second attempt at the bay crossing. During last year’s try, Paul tore a bicep tendon around five hours in. He gamely swam on for an hour using only one arm, before conceding defeat – but vowing to return.

 

After an operation, six months of physiotherapy and six months of training, during which he has swum up to 40 km a week in the pool and ocean, Paul said he was looking forward to success.

 

“This time it’s very personal. This is unfinished business for me. I don’t like leaving things unaccomplished.”

 

Paul swam the English Channel in 2014 to celebrate his 40th birthday. His other epic swims include Portarlington to Frankston (47km) and Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance (40km).

 

Dubbed the Baths 2 Baths swim (as it starts and ends at Victoria’s last remaining sea baths, at Eastern Beach in Geelong and Brighton), the swim will take place over the weekend of 17-19 March. Tides and weather will determine the exact timing.

 

A support crew using a main 52 ft vessel and an inflatable boat will accompany Paul, but under the rules of open-water swimming he is not allowed to touch either boat or receive assistance other than food and drink. He will wear only Speedos, a cap and goggles as wetsuits are prohibited.

 

Paul aims to raise $10,000 – around 50 per cent of the cost of heart surgery for a patient. Supporters can donate to East Timor Hearts Fund and leave messages of support via Everyday Hero at give.everydayhero.com/au/baths-2-baths-swim-mending-broken-hearts.

 

Brighton Baths Health Club is sponsoring the event, which will also support a charitable foundation established for Will Murray, a young man who was injured in a diving accident in 2015 (wheretheresawill.com.au). 

 

 

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Paramedic's 100k trek for healthy hearts

Today’s East Timor Hearts Fund Herogram is going out to paramedic Belinda Donkers, who has signed up to trek more than 100 mountainous kilometres across Timor to raise awareness and funds for heart disease.

Belinda works demanding shifts with the Queensland Ambulance Service, and is also an Army reservist and St John Ambulance Australia volunteer. But she still finds time to pound the trails to train for the inaugural Earth Trails' The Trans-Timor Trek, a fundraiser for East Timor Hearts Fund.

“I have a significant history of heart disease in my family and have seen first-hand how horrible the disease is for both the suffer and their loved ones,” Belinda said.

“I am keen to be part of the combined efforts of East Timor Hearts Fund because I believe that together we can do more than individuals.

“I believe that prevention is better than cure and this is at the base of the strategy of East Timor Hearts Fund.”

You can donate and leave a message of support for Belinda on her fundraising page. There are still a few places left for the trek; here are some links for more info:

http://earthtrails.com.au/expeditions/east-timor/

www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au/trans-timor-trek/

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Heartfelt thanks to our volunteers

***A message from our CEO Stuart Thomson***


Dear friends,

I write this as I fly from Dili to Darwin, enroute home following five amazing days spent with our volunteer medical team in Timor-Leste.

This was not my first time to visit Timor-Leste, but it was my first as CEO for East Timor Hearts Fund.

It is hard to describe in words what I have seen over the past five days. I have to admit that at times emotion nearly overran me. I felt pride to be CEO for such an amazing organisation and humbled by the dedication of the volunteer medical team as they saw patient after patient without flinching.

Among the nearly 200 patients screened were many who came back to see our honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley and the team following earlier treatment in Australia. Also among them were those that will get to know us better as we set out to mend their broken hearts.

I would like to personally thank Dr Noel, Tom, Nicole, Sarah, Nicki, Liam and Gordon for volunteering their time so generously, for their incredible calm in the face of adversity and for welcoming me and patiently explaining their work. Thanks are also due to our dedicated friends from Bairo Pite Clinic, Fatima and Alarico.

This was not my first trip to Timor-Leste and it will not be my last as CEO. To all our volunteers, and to you our supporters, I thank you with all my heart.

– Stuart Thomson, CEO, East Timor Hearts Fund

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An update from Dr Noel in Dili: 'A special trip'

An update from Dr Noel in Dili

Hi all,

We've arrived at the end of our latest screening visit.

Most of the team went back to Darwin last night; clinic administrator Nicki Mock and I stayed to do the final clinic, with Dr Andre Monteiro, East Timor's only cardiologist, at Guido Valadares National Hospital.

That turned out to be quite busy and well worthwhile. We saw two young people with very severe mitral stenosis, who are very suitable for curative intervention in Australia with balloon procedures.

Overall, we've identified about a dozen new patients requiring surgical treatment, a mixture of adults and children. Some we will be able to arrange treatment for in Australia; and some will be referred to ROMAC, the Rotary children’s medical organisation.

It's been a special trip, with around 200 patients seen. Other highlights:

- We installed Timor’s first coronary care unit, and a variety of other donated cardiac equipment.

- Gordon Szegi, the biomedical engineer who accompanied us, made many friends (and worked very hard) by repairing a lot of malfunctioning hospital equipment.

- And our we made our first trip to Suai, around 140 kilometres southwest of Dili.

We'll be back in June to do it all again.

Your support allows us to take the next step for each of our patients....the actual surgery that saves lives.

Thank you all.

– Dr Noel Bayley, honorary medical adviser

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Hello again Paulo!

Remember 13 year old Paulo? His dream of becoming an engineer was at risk of crumbling because of his serious, untreated heart disease. We launched an appeal to raise $20,000 to give him a life-saving heart procedure in Australia last July. Look at him now! Dr Noel, who is in Dili with our volunteer medical team, has just caught up Paulo for a check up. As you can see, he's now doing much better - back at school and able to play soccer again.

Please go to our website to find out how you can get involved, and help us mend more broken hearts.

Photo credit: Hugh Miley

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An update from Dr Noel in Dili

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Our new CEO in the news

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Meet Stuart Thomson, our new CEO

Meet our new CEO, Stuart Thomson

"My motivations in seeking the role are personal as well as professional. Several years ago my family and I unsuccessfully tried to bring a four year old relative of my Tanzanian-born wife to Australia for heart treatment. Sadly, she passed away before we could arrange help.

"This shook our family and shakes me today that an easily treatable condition can result in so much tragedy.

"The contrast with the treatment my own young son received when diagnosed with a heart murmur was stark. It’s a tale of two countries, only one hour’s flying time from each other, that such a twist of fate can occur. I want to contribute to ensure that this injustice becomes a thing of the past."

Read Stuart's full bio

View Stuart's video message 

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Media release - international development leader named new CEO

Media release -  international development leader named as new CEO

1 February 2017

 

Seasoned international development program leader Stuart Thomson will join East Timor Hearts Fund this month as chief executive officer, board chair Ingrid Svendsen today announced.

“This appointment comes at a pivotal time for East Timor Hearts Fund,” Ms Svendsen said.

“In the next few years our work will expand significantly as we provide life-saving heart surgery in Australia for more patients than ever, while tackling the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste with prevention, research and education initiatives.

“The board is delighted to have someone with Stuart’s experience to join us, as we move from charity start-up to a mature, development-focussed organisation.”

A trained nurse, who has lived and worked in Timor-Leste and other developing countries with organisations such as Oxfam, Mr Thomson’s experience includes helping establish World Vision’s United Nations award-winning Child Health Now campaign, implemented in more than 40 countries.

Mr Thomson said he was thrilled at the opportunity to build and lead an organisation that was not only mobilising support to “mend broken hearts” but was also focussed on preventative work.

“I’m really looking forward to helping a great organisation reach its full potential,” Mr Thomson said.

“It’s going to be immensely satisfying to help position East Timor Hearts Fund to assist more patients and support the development of local services for Timorese who are currently without access to heart surgery and preventative treatments.”

Mr Thomson said his motivations in seeking the role were personal as well as professional. “Several years ago my family and I unsuccessfully tried to bring a four year old relative of my Tanzanian-born wife to Australia for heart treatment. Sadly, she passed away before we could arrange help,” Mr Thomson said.

“This shook our family and shakes me today that an easily treatable condition can result in so much tragedy.”

Mr Thomson said the contrast with the treatment his own young son received when diagnosed with a heart murmur was stark. “It’s a tale of two countries, only one hour’s flying time from each other, that such a twist of fate can occur. I want to contribute to ensure that this injustice becomes a thing of the past.”

Mr Thomson would commence on 13 February and fly to Timor-Leste later this month to meet health partners and support the volunteer medical team’s screening clinics in Dili and outlying districts.

Ms Svendsen paid tribute to the outstanding work of interim CEO Mike Gregory, who has occupied the role since October.

Read Stuart Thomson’s bio here.

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Media release_Lider dezenvolvimentu internasionál ida simu knaar foun nu’udar Diretór Prezidente

Lider dezenvolvimentu internasionál ida simu knaar foun nu’udar Diretór Prezidente

 

1 Fevreiru 2017

 

Lider programa ida iha área dezenvolvimentu internasionál ho esperiénsia boot, naran Stuart Thomson, sei komesa servisu iha East Timor Hearts Fund iha fulan Fevreiru nu’udar Diretór Prezidente, hatete Prezidente Konsellu Administrasaun ohin.

“Designasaun ida-ne’e akontese iha moment importante ida ba East Timor Hearts Fund”. Dehan Sra. Svendsen.

“Iha tinan hirak tuir mai, ami sei haboot liu tan ami-nia servisu fornese sirurjia fuan, ne’ebé salva ema-nia moris, iha Australia ba pasiente barak liu tan, ho iha tempu hanesan, tau matan ba problema saúde fuan-nia kauza abut   

iha Timor-Leste, ho inisiativa ba prevensaun, peskiza ho edukasaun.

“Konsellu Administrasaun haksolok tebetebes atu simu ema ida ho Stuart-nia esperiénsia, enkuantu East Timor Hearts Fund muda nia modelu husi karidade foin mak harii, bá organizasaun ida ne’ebé maduru no foku ba dezenvolvimentu”.

Sr. Thomson uluk hela ho servisu nu’udar enfermeiru iha Timor-Leste, ho  mós rian sira-seluk dezenvolve hela. Nia servisu tiha ba organizasaun hanesan Oxfam, no mós iha knaar ba harii World Vision-nia kampaña Child Health Now, kampaña ida ne’ebé hetan prémiu husi ONU, ho implementa iha nasaun 40 resin.

Sr. Thomson dehan katak nia kontente tebetebes ho oportunidade ida-ne’e atu haburas no komanda organizasaun ida ne’ebé servisu la’ós de’it ba “hadi’ak fuan-tohar” maibé foku mós ba asuntu prevensaun.

“Ha’u ansiosu hahú ha’u-nia knaar iha organizasaun fantástiku ida-ne’e, atu atinje nia poténsia másimu.“ Sr. Thomson dehan.

“Oportunidade ida-ne’e sei fó ha’u satisfasaun boot, atu tulun East Timor Hearts Fund ajuda pasiente barak liu tan, no mós suporta dezenvolvimentu servisu saúde sira ne’ebé Timor-oan sira presiza, tanba la iha asesu ba sirurjia fuan no tratamentu preventivu.”

Sr. Thomson hatete katak nia motiva atu simu knaar foun ne’e tanba razaun pesoál ho mós profisionál. “Tinan balun liu ba, ha’u-nia família ho ha’u koko, maibé la ho rezultadu, atu lori labarik-oan ida tinan haat, ne’ebé ha’u-nia feen-nia parente husi rai Tanzania, mai Australia ba simu tratamentu fuan. Infelizmente, nia mate molok ami konsege arranja buat hotu ba lori nia mai.”

“Momentu triste ne’ebá iha impaktu boot ba ami-nia família, no ha’u rai esperiénsia ne’e iha ha’u-nia laran, katak kondisaun médiku ida ne’ebé loloos bele kura fasil duni ho tratamentu, maibé tanba la iha asesu ba tratamentu, rezultadu sai fali trajédia.”

Sr. Thomson dehan katak nia esperiénsia ho nia oan-mane rasik, bainhira nia simu diagnóstika murmura-fuan, sai oin seluk loos. “Istória ne’e nia tema maka ‘diferensa entre nasaun rua’, besik loos malu no semo aviaun horas ida de’it, maibé nasaun rua ne’e-nia destinu sai diferente loos. Ha’u hakarak fó ha’u-nia kontribuisaun atu hatebes katak injustisa ne’e sai tiha problema pasadu-nian”

Sr. Thomson sei komesa nia knaar foun ne’e iha Fevreiru loron 13, ho semo ba Timor-Leste iha fulan ida-ne’e nia remata, hodi koñese parseiru sira iha area saúde, no apoia ekipa médiku-nia klínika ba identifika moras fuan iha Dili no iha distritu.

Sra. Svenden hato’o nia parabéns ba Diretór Prezidente interinu Sr. Mike Gregory, ne’ebé kaer hela knaar ne’e dezde Outubru tinan 2016.

Bele lee Sr. Thomson-nia blogue iha ami-nia website easttimorheartsfund.org.au.

 

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'There are so many like her that can be helped.'

“There are so many others like her that can be helped. That’s what this trek is all about.”

 

Paramedic Mick Stuth saw first-hand the devastating impact of rheumatic heart disease when he served as a peace-keeper in Timor-Leste. The sight of young children gasping for air, unable to run, play or go to school has remained with him. It's what inspired him to organise the Trans-Timor Trek, an epic hike to raise funds and awareness.

Recently Mick had the opportunity to meet East Timor Hearts Fund patient Alia, which he said was very moving.

“Alia told me she no longer feels tired and dizzy, and that she has an appetite again. She said she is looking forward to getting back to school and working toward her dream of studying medicine. 

“There are so many others like her that can be helped. That’s what this trek is all about.”

Only 15 places are available on the Earth Trails Trans Timor Trek, and are filling fast. Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mathew Lynn

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Media release: New heart, hope and life for Alia – thanks Warrnambool

Media release

New heart, hope and life for Alia – thanks Warrnambool

14 January 2017

Warrnambool cardiologist Dr Noel Bayley and Timorese teen Alia Borges have given a “heartfelt thank you” to people from Warrnambool and the south-west who supported a crowdfunding campaign to give Alia life-saving surgery in Australia.

Alia, 15, has made a rapid recovery following a four-hour double heart valve repair operation last month. She returned to Timor-Leste late this week, ready to go back to school and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

Dr Bayley, honorary medical adviser and co-founder of the medical charity East Timor Hearts Fund, described the response from local people to Alia’s plight as truly humbling.

The crowdfunding campaign, launched in late September, aimed to raise $20,000 in 20 days but ended up generating more than $30,000, with around one-third of the total contributed by individuals and foundations from Warrnambool and the south-west.

“I’ve always known my home town has a big heart, but this has demonstrated just how big,” Dr Bayley said.

“It has been especially touching to have so many of my patients and their families share their good health and good fortune by contributing to transform Alia’s life and allow her to pursue her ambition of studying medicine.”

Dr Bayley acknowledged the Warrnambool-based AL Lane Foundation, A & M Crothers Foundation, A & H Graham Foundation and Ern Hartley Foundation, which gave generously.

He thanked Professor Yves d'Udekem and the team at the Royal Children’s Hospital for their outstanding work. Relieved of the debilitating symptoms of rheumatic heart disease, Alia could now breathe easily, walk and move freely, eat well and enjoy life.

Alia’s mum Octavia said she could not believe her daughter’s transformation. "My family and I would like to say a big thank you to the East Timor Hearts Fund team and volunteers, the surgeons and medical team, all the amazing donors, including people from Warrnambool and the south-west, and everyone involved for helping saving my daughter's life,” Octavia said.

“The world needs more people like you.”

Alia said the donors, medical staff and East Timor Hearts Fund volunteers “will always be in my heart”.

“I am looking forward to going back to school and hopefully achieving my dream of becoming a doctor.” 

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New heart, new hope, new life for Alia

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Scholarship for Timor-Leste's one and only Dr Andre

Dr Andre Montiero is a very special medico - he's Timor-Leste's only cardiologist! And right now, thanks to a $10,000 scholarship provided by East Timor Hearts Fund, Dr Montiero is in Australia further building his professional skills and sharing his knowledge with his Melbourne counterparts. Dr Montiero is being hosted at MonashHeart, where he is undertaking simulator training, attending cardiology inpatient and outpatient clinics, and experiencing echocardiography and paediatric cardiology learning opportunities.

Our thanks to Director of Cardiology, Professor Rick Harper, and echocardiography trainer Tony Wald, for sharing their time and expertise with Dr Montiero, and also to the generous donor who made the scholarship possible.

We are very much looking forward to Dr Montiero not only playing a greater role in our screening, research and treatment programs in Timor-Leste, but to him contributing new knowledge and skills to the rapidly developing health system in his home country.

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Getting into the swing, to mend a broken heart

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'I can't wait to go back to my family and start working again'

Our latest patient, Maria, an emergency nurse at Baucau Hospital in Timor-Leste, had her first experience as a patient this week, with a heart procedure at Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney, followed by recuperation at Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

Maria is in great spirits and eating and drinking well. "I can feel the difference now. I can breathe much easier," Maria told us.

"I am forever grateful for everyone involved in giving me the second chance in life. I can't wait to go back to my family and start working again," an excited Maria said.

Our thanks and gratitude to Eastern Heart Clinic's Virag Kushwala and Roger Allan, who performed the procedure, and to all at Eastern Heart and Prince of Wales Private, who have cared so superbly for Maria. Thanks also to Simoa, from Bairo Pite Clinic, who accompanied Maria to Australia.

What a fantastic Christmas gift for Maria and her family.

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Media release - Former Aussie peacekeeper puts heart into epic Timor trek

                          

Media release -  Former Aussie peacekeeper puts heart into epic Timor trek

17 November 2016

 

A former Australian peacekeeper is returning to Timor-Leste (East Timor) to lead an epic north-south trek, which will include a summit attempt on Mt Ramelau, Timor-Leste’s highest peak, historic sites and village homestays.

 

The 13-day event, which will be supported by local guides, is the first commercial coast-to-coast trek for the fledgling nation, one hour’s flying time from Darwin.

 

Trekkers will camp and homestay in villages along the picturesque and often mountainous 110 km route. As well as an attempt on the 2986 metre Mt Ramelau, the expedition will take in historic sites including remote natural hot springs and the Portuguese-era fort and township of Balibo, where five Australian media workers lost their lives in 1975.

 

Trek organiser and leader Mick Stuth, now a civilian paramedic and operations director of EarthTrails Expeditions, which trains remote medics, said the Timor trek grew from his experiences as a peacekeeper, and his commitment to help support one of the poorest nations in Asia.

 

“In 2003 I served in Timor-Leste in a civil-military liaison role for the Australian Defence Force. It was truly eye-opening, to see what the people have endured in years of civil strife and occupation,” Mick said.

 

“As an Australian and a medic I also had to fathom that our ‘next door neighbours’, who are only one hour’s flying time from mainland Australia, live with such extreme poverty and poor health.

 

“This trek is my way to make a difference, and to give other Australians the chance to also help out our neighbours.”

 

Mick said he chose East Timor Hearts Fund – an Australian charity that provides life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young Timorese and supports research and preventative health initiatives – based on his experiences in Timor-Leste.

 

“I saw first-hand how rheumatic fever, the cause of many of the heart problems experienced by East Timor Hearts Fund’s young patients, works its way through communities,” he said.

 

“It causes crippling heart failure in young people, leaving them breathless, lethargic and unable to go to school or enjoy sport or playing with friends.

 

“To see children gasping for air, lying helpless and unable to do what other children do at that age, is heart-breaking and if there is treatment and prevention available, why wouldn’t we support it?”

 

As well as the social benefit, Mick said the trip, next July-August, would be an incredible adventure, in an “unspoilt wonderland, rich in vibrant cultures and jaw-dropping landscapes” that had very few tourists.

 

Mick urged Australians with a sense of adventure and a social conscience to get behind the trek. With only 15 places available, people need to act quickly. Special early-bird prices also apply before 25 November.

 

To register or to find out more, visit earthtrails.com.au/expeditions/east-timor/

 

Fact file:

East Timor Hearts Fund is Australia’s only medical aid charity dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young people from Timor-Leste (East Timor). These patients often need relatively simple procedures to correct conditions that are the legacy of childhood rheumatic fever, a disease largely eradicated in the west. They cannot be treated in Timor-Leste due to a lack of specialist medical facilities.

 

Earth Trails Expeditions is a socially and environmentally conscious adventure travel company that supports the Wild Medic Project, a volunteer-based organisation providing health training and support for remote communities in locations including Nepal.

 

Trans-Timor Trek

Date: Saturday 22 July – Thursday 3 August, 2017

Cost: $3,450 AUD – (special earlybird price until 25 November)

Info: earthtrails.com.au/expeditions/east-timor/

 

Early bird price until 25 November (refer to the website to learn about inclusions/exclusions)

 

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Meet Mick, the force behind the Trans-Timor Trek

Director of operations for Earth Trails Expeditions - Mick Stuth had an interesting introduction to Timor-Leste as part of a civil-military liaison role for the Australian Defence Force in 2003. Since that “eye-opening” operation, his connection and love for the people of Timor-Leste has opened up a trekking concept that involves leading a challenging traverse from one side of the country to the other, combined with an initiative to raise funds for an important cause.

 

From the moment I arrived in Timor-Leste in 2003, I felt a great sense of fragility mixed with a dash of optimism while talking with these beautiful people coming out of a tumultuous period.

 

While most of my colleagues felt that this was a six-month operation where the objective must be achieved, I felt that this was an opportunity to get to know the locals and try to understand the great disparity I was witnessing on a grand scale. It’s fair to say that there was an element of “culture shock” as I peered into the lives of simplicity, but with a raw history that had endless economic and social complexities.

 

The local stories of resistance, brutality, helplessness from characters with faces of resilience and pride have sat with me as I try to comprehend what has actually occurred through years of occupation. Through that experience my heart felt burdened and I promised myself that I would one day come back to this new nation to assist the local communities in some way that adds true value.

 

After an amazing visit with my young family, a refresher on Tetum-Praca and a catch-up with my great friend and local interpreter from 2003, the decision to organise a trek from the North to the South side of the island came into fruition after a casual chat with Manny Napoleon, a local eco-tour operator in Dili. A group trek would surely inject funds into the economy, but it alone would not harness the kind of value I wanted to bring.

 

Being a paramedic back home, my passion for healthcare is strong and what better way to support the young hearts of Timor-Leste by raising funds for East Timor Hearts Fund, an Australian-based organisation that provides life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young East Timorese.

 

Rheumatic fever, the cause of many of the heart problems experienced by East Timor Hearts Fund’s patients, works its way through communities in Timor. It causes crippling heart failure in young people leaving them breathless, lethargic and unable to contribute to their community in any meaningful way. To see children gasping for air lying helpless unable to do what other children do at that age is heart-breaking and if there is a relatively simple prevention and cure for this condition, why wouldn’t we support it?

 

Earth Trails Expeditions was born to help bring people to alternative destinations around the world, experiencing each location in its true rawness while injecting vital fundraising into key local initiatives. Earth Trails partner Steve Whitfield and I have been to Timor-Leste multiple times identifying its cultural, geographical and historical value as incredibly unique.

 

We have named the hiking challenge to benefit East Timor Hearts Fund the Trans-Timor Trek, and up to 15 participants will take in the 13 day journey, in July-August 2017. Manny’s local team will provide logistics and support for the mountainous deployment that includes a summit attempt on Mt Ramelau, East Timor’s highest peak. Each participant will individually fundraise prior to setting off in support of East Timor Hearts Fund.   

 

 

With plans to become a yearly event, the team at Earth Trails hope that the Trans-Timor Trek brings something special to the participants, but more importantly something critical for the young hearts of Timor-Leste.

 

I hope you will join me on what promises to be an incredible journey.

Mick Stuth

Earthtrails Expeditions

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Lucky Bete

Our patient Bete, who had open heart surgery earlier this week at University Hospital Geelong, is an extraordinarily lucky woman.

In addition to her VSD ("hole in the heart"), the surgical team discovered she had a second serious heart defect, a ruptured sinus of Valsalva, which meant that the aortic root had gradually weakened and ruptured into the right ventricle. The two holes have now been repaired, with no need to replace the aortic valve. This is a great outcome for Bete, who was at grave and immediate risk without treatment.

Bete is a mum of three, sports teacher and keen soccer and volley ball player. She has everything to live for, and will now have that opportunity.

Bete will be out of hospital and into the spring sunshine within a few days.

Our thanks to the skilled surgeon Mr Bo Zhang, and all of the skilled clinical teams at University Hospital Geelong, as well as our volunteer medical team member Dr Alan Appelbe, who has worked so hard to arrange treatment in Australia for Bete.

Our thanks to you also, as your support allows us to help patients like Bete.

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Heart-healthy fun for Bete

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2016 Golf Day - swing into action to mend a broken heart!

We are very pleased to announce a new way to have fun and support our work.

 

East Timor Hearts Fund Golf Day - Swing into action to mend a broken heart!

 

Details 

Friday 9 December

Sanctuary Lakes Golf Course

Breakfast from 7.15am

Shotgun tee-off at 8.00am

Lunch and guest speaker at 12.30pm

 

Entry includes breakfast, 18 holes on a Greg Norman-designed championship course, golf cart, sit down lunch with speaker.

 

*** Raising funds for East Timor Hearts Fund, Australia’s only medical aid charity dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young people from Timor-Leste.

 

Contact

Paul Hoffman

T 9530 2711

M 0405 312 543

E 2016golfday@easttimorheartsfund.org.au

 

Download the flier!

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A sporting chance for Bete

We're excited here at ETHF HQ, and it's not because of a horse race!

Later today our latest patient Bete arrives. Bete is a mum of three and a sports teacher - but in recent years she hasn't been able to work or enjoy her passion for soccer and volleyball because of worsening symptoms from a "hole in the heart" condition she was born with. In a western country, Bete's condition would have been diagnosed and treated in infancy, but because of a lack of specialist cardiac care in Timor-Leste, Bete has had to live with increasing breathlessness, pain and worry.

When I get better, I would like to look after my children and continue to do my teaching,” Bete told us. “I would like to say thank you very much to the doctors, donors, and everyone who is involved.”

 

Our patient support volunteers are planning a warm welcome for Bete. We'll update you soon!

 

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Our unstoppable volunteers

The Melbourne Cup might be the "horse race that stops a nation" but nothing stops our volunteer patient support team! When our patient Bete arrived in Melbourne this afternoon (along with health support worker/interpreter Alarico from Bairo Pite Clinic) our volunteers Annette, Ana and Inacio were on hand to greet them with necessities including warm clothes, a home cooked meal and a local mobile phone. Bete, a sports teacher and mother of three, is now resting up at her accommodation. She is tired but relieved to be here, and excited to be so close to getting the help she needs for her heart condition. Benvindu Bete!

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Skin disease, heart disease - what's the story?

How can skin infections possibly lead to heart disease, and what can we do about it? The project leader of our landmark rheumatic heart disease prevalence study, Dr Josh Francis of Royal Darwin Hospital, reveals all in this interview with ABC RA Pacific Beat program. Hope you enjoy it.

**The prevalence study, which involved screening 1400 school children in five days, was conducted last week with our project partners including RhEACH, Bairo Pite Clinic, St John of God Health Care and others. East Timor Hearts Fund financed the study, as part of our commitment to tackling the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste. Our thanks to the generous private donor who has made this incredibly important piece of research possible!

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'I can't wait to come to Australia!'

Dear friends,

Our Mend Alia’s Broken Heart crowdfunding campaign has now concluded. 

Our volunteer medical team, Dr Noel Bayley and Dr Alan Appelbe, have given Alia her final checkup, and confirmed that she is set to come to Australia for her surgery.  This is a truly fantastic outcome for Alia, who aspires to finish school and be a doctor, so she can help others with life-threatening heart disease.

Final preparations are now underway for Alia to come to Australia, along with her mum Octavia, and a health support worker/interpreter. If you have not done so already, please subscribe to our e-news for the latest on Alia, and other occasional updates on our work, or follow our Facebook page.

We caught up with Alia and Octavia, and told them how people all over Australia were donating so that Alia gets the care she needs.

Please watch the video below to see their reaction!

After living with debilitating symptoms for so long, Alia is understandably thrilled that medical help is at hand, as is her whole family.

Alia told us: "I can't wait to come to Australia." Octavia said: "Thank you for helping my daughter. I am so happy now. Thanks Australia!"

Our campaign raised more than $29,000 – way in excess of our original $20,000 target! This is great news for Alia, and for the other young patients on our waiting list. It’s also a tribute to the generosity and support of all of the people who donated to ensure that Alia gets the care she needs, and shared her story, to let more people know about our work.

Obrigada barak (thank you very much)!

 

Ingrid, on behalf of the Mend Alia's Broken Heart campaign team

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Mend Alia's Broken Heart campaign update - We did it!!

  

WE DID IT!!

Thank you so much to all who shared, donated and left beautiful messages of support for our patient Alia. 

Moments ago our crowdfunding campaign to provide 15-year-old Alia with life-saving heart surgery reached the $20,000 target - four days ahead of the official close of the campaign!

Although we have reached our target, with such a huge outpouring of support, we have decided to allow the campaign to run until the planned finish date, Tuesday 17 October. We have a long waiting list, so any additional funds will allow us to give another patient the same life-changing opportunity as Alia. You can read our full update to supporters as (as well as share and donate) on our Chuffed page.

Thank you for helping us #MendAliasBrokenHeart

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Marathon heart screening effort powered by grit, humour and lunch!

Screening 1000 school children for heart disease in five days requires grit, stamina, a good sense of humour - and lunch! Our volunteer team is today travelling Letefoho, at the foot of famous Mt Ramelau, south-west of the capital of Dili. They've made a great start, with more than 500 children screened already, and more to come over the next few days.

It's great to see them keeping their energy up and still smiling.

The team is working on a landmark piece of research to establish the incidence of rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste, which is being funded by East Timor Hearts Fund (thanks to a generous private donation) and delivered by a partnership of NGOs in Australia and Timor-Leste. More info here.

Photo credit: Susanna Rossi Photographs

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A life-saving donation - thank you Peninsula Health and GE Healthcare

**An Update from Dr Noel in Dili**

On behalf of East Timor Hearts Fund today I had the privilege of handing over a donated cardiac ultrasound machine to Guido Valadares National Hospital in Dili.

Dr Mendes Pinto, Director of Diagnostic and Logistics, and Timor-Leste’s first cardiologist, Dr Andre Montiero, accepted the gift.

This device is essential for diagnosis and management of cardiac disease, especially rheumatic valvular disease, so common in this country.

The cardiac ultrasound machine was very generously donated by Peninsula Cardiology, with support and assistance from GE Healthcare, and their representative, Greg Hyland.

Until now, this major hospital had no functional, high quality cardiac imaging equipment. So we're proud to be responsible for addressing this need, and also grateful for the generosity of the donors.

We have also sourced the necessary equipment to provide Dili National with a coronary care unit, the country's first. This will be installed early next year.

We are very proud to assist our Timorese colleagues in this way, as a crucial part of our long-term plan to support an improvement in the cardiac health of this wonderful country.

Dr Noel Bayley,

Honorary medical adviser

Photo credit: Susanna Rossi - Photographs

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Media release: Landmark heart study to screen 1000 Timorese children

Media release

Landmark heart study to screen 1000 Timorese children

Monday 10 October 2016

A team of Australian cardiologists and other medical specialists is assembling in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste (East Timor), ready to commence a landmark heart disease prevalence study.

Up to 1000 school children, in Dili and outlying districts, will be screened as part of the study, the first of its kind conducted in Timor-Leste, which aims to estimate the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in the country.

RHD is a preventable, treatable form of cardiovascular disease that affects more than 32 million people around the world, and claims 275,000 lives a year. The prevalence of the disease has never been measured in Timor-Leste, despite many young people who have advanced heart disease.

Dr Noel Bayley, honorary medical adviser of the Australian medical aid charity East Timor Hearts Fund, said the organisation was funding the study as part of push to tackle the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste.

“Since 2010 East Timor Hearts Fund has provided heart surgery or procedures in Australia for more than 30 patients, the vast majority of whom have been young people with RHD,” Dr Bayley said.

“While continuing to assist individual patients, we also want to start to look at the systemic issues.

“Anecdotally we know that there is a very high rate of RHD in Timor-Leste. This study aims to quantify that more precisely, and provide a platform for East Timor Hearts Fund and other non-government and government organisations to begin to marshal the funding and resources needed to effectively tackle this devastating disease.”

The study is the result of collaboration between East Timor Hearts Fund, RhEACH – a founding member of RHD Action – and local partners Bairo Pite Clinic and St John of God Timor-Leste.

Between Monday 10 October and Friday 14 October a team of four cardiologists and other medical specialists, nurses and support staff from around Australia and from Timor-Leste will commence the echocardiography screening study, which will develop a picture of how widespread RHD is among children and young adults in Timor-Leste. The medical team will examine children from schools in the capital of Dili, and the village of Letefoho, in Ermera district, south-west of the capital.

Treatment will be made available to children identified with RHD or skin conditions that can lead to it. Where children are found to have RHD, families will be offered the option of penicillin treatment, immediately and ongoing. East Timor Hearts Fund is also funding an expanded prophylactic penicillin program via Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili, supported by a donation of medication from Pfizer.

“Understanding the burden of RHD in Timor-Leste will help us understand what can be done to tackle the disease,” said Dr Joshua Francis, a paediatric infectious disease specialist from Darwin, who is participating in the study.

“Prevention of these severe cases of RHD would not only be cost-effective for the health system in Timor-Leste, it would also spare a significant number of children and young people in Timor-Leste from suffering, and even dying from, a completely preventable disease.”

Download the media release (PDF download)

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Thanks Willow and friends - hearts of gold

We're constantly humbled by the kindness of our junior supporters. Today's ETHF Herogram goes out to eight year old Willow and her friends, who are students at Dili International School. Willow (that's her in the centre at the back) turned down birthday presents at her party recently, and instead asked her friends to contribute to the Mend Alia's Broken Heart crowdfunding campaign. They raised an impressive $156! Thanks Willow and friends, you have hearts of gold.

Help us raise $20,000 in 20 days to Mend Alia's Broken Heart. Donate and share at https://chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart

#MendAliasBrokenHeart

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Timorese street food to mend a broken heart

Huge thanks to our friends Sabores de Timor and Down to Earth Coffee and Tea House for putting on this great event.Come and sample some delicious Timorese street food, meet the makers, and support our Mend Alia's Broken Heart crowdfunding campaign to provide life-saving heart surgery in Australia for 15-year-old Alia. Details on our Facebook page.

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Thanks Doris and John  Madden for your big hearts!

Today's ETHF Herogram is going out to Doris and John Madden, who have made one of the largest individual donations to our Mend Alia's Broken Heart crowdfunding campaign. Thanks Doris and John! As a little thank you for their kindness, Doris and John receive one of our great campaign perks - afternoon tea with Alia and her mum Octavia. They also get this social shout out, and listing in our Hall of Fame.

If you'd like to be rewarded with great perks, including the greatest perk of all, helping Alia get the life-saving treatment she needs, please go to our campaign page at Chuffed.org to donate and share.

#MendAliasBrokenHeart

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'My dream is to be a doctor'

Celebrate World Heart Day by helping to mend a broken heart. We’re crowdfunding $20,000 in 20 days to give Timorese teenager Alia life-saving heart surgery in Australia, so she can work toward her dream of being a doctor.Please share this post with all the generous people you know. Go to Chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart to donate.

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All the photos from our Mend Alia's Broken Heart launch!

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'When I'm better I will be happy with my family and friends'

Critical heart disease is standing in the way of Alia’s simple wish to have a happy life with family and friends. Help us give her the normal childhood she deserves.Please share this post with all the generous people you know. Go to Chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart to donate.

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Join the crowd to raise $20,000 in 20 days for Alia

Today we are proud to launch our first ever crowdfunding campaign. We’re raising $20,000 in 20 days so that 15-year-old Alia can have life-saving heart surgery in Australia. Why crowdfunding? We know Australian people want to help their neighbours in Timor-Leste, and crowdfunding provides a way. Please share this post with all the generous people you know. Go to Chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart to donate.

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Helping Alia achieve her dream

With a new heart, Alia can work toward her dream of being a doctor and helping others with heart disease. Will you help us Mend Alia’s Broken Heart? Please share this post with all the generous people you know. Go to Chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart to donate.

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Words alone cannot describe

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Sneak preview!

SNEAK PREVIEW! Tomorrow we're launching a very special fundraising campaign. We're crowdfunding $20,000 in 20 days to give 15-year-old Alia life-saving heart surgery in Australia. Our crowdfunding page on Chuffed.org will be live tomorrow, 27 September. More details soon! 

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We're making news in Warrnambool!

Thanks to our friends Warrnambool Standard for sharing our exciting news - next Tuesday we'll be launching a crowdfunding campaign to provide life-saving heart surgery for 15 year old Alia. Read all about it - and watch out for more info soon! #mendaliasbrokenheart

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'I feel really healthy and happy'

This morning we bid a fond "adeus and boa viajem" (farewell and safe travels) to our latest patient, 23 year old kinder teacher Eufasia, and companion Fati, from Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili.

Eufasia, who had a successful heart valve repair at Royal Melbourne Hospital earlier this month, is so excited about being able to resume her work as a teacher. "I've not been able to work for almost a year. I really miss teaching. Thank you to all involved for helping me. I feel very happy and healthy," she told us.

We wish Eufrasia the greatest happiness in her new, healthy life.

#mendingbrokenhearts

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A hearty appetite!

Our patient Eufrasia has a healthy appetite since her heart surgery nearly a fortnight ago, so our patient support volunteers Alanah and Sally organised a beautiful dinner for her and Bairo Pite Clinic health support worker/interpreter Fati. Eufrasia has some final medical checks, before being cleared to fly back to Timor-Leste, where she'll be well enough to return to her work as a kindergarten teacher.

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Trans-Timor Trek for healthy hearts

Next July-August our friends EarthTrails Expeditions will lead an incredible trek across Timor, which will help raise funds for our work. Staring in Dili in the north, the trek will finish in Betano in the south, taking in sights including Timor-Leste's highest peak, Mt Ramelau; Balibo and the historic hot springs. Only 15 lucky people will get to take part! More info from EarthTrails Expeditions.Early bird prices apply before 20 November.

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Smiling at a crocodile

Our patient Eufrasia is feeling better every day following her double heart valve repair surgery, so now it's time for some fun, which our volunteer patient support team are experts in arranging. Volunteer Robyn took Eufrasia and interpreter/health support worker Fati to visit Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium - where they found a crocodile, a sacred animal in Timor-Leste.

After some final checkups, Eufrasia should be well enough to return home next week. The 23 year old kindergarten teacher is very much looking forward to being well enough to return to work.

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Toll renews a life-saving partnership

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Out of hospital and one step closer to a new, healthy life

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'I am happy. Thank you to all involved.'

Kindergarten teacher Eufrasia continues to make a great recovery after her double heart valve repair operation at Royal Melbourne Hospital this week. Her appetite is back and she says she can breathe easily. "I am happy. Thank you to all involved," Eufrasia said.

A big thanks also to the wonderful Fati, from Bairo Pite Clinic, who has been at Eufrasia's side throughout, and also to our very own patient support coordinator Ana, and her delicious kaldu na'an manu (Timorese chicken soup with chicken, watercress, ginger, rice and lemongrass), which is helping to restore Eufrasia to health.

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An outstanding result for Eufrasia

***An update from Dr Noel***

 

Good evening all,

We've had what looks like an outstanding result with our patient, Eufrasia.

She had severely leaky aortic and mitral valves, and the resultant increased load on the main pumping chamber of her heart, the left ventricle, led it to progressively expand in size, and to fail.

She was, as a consequence, faced with disabling fatigue and breathlessness, and without surgery, early death.

Cardiac surgeon Michael O'Keefe and the team at RMH successfully repaired both valves today.

In East Timor, no treatment was available.

In Australia, traditionally, the valves would have been replaced.

To repair the valves, with what looks like an excellent functional result, is the ideal outcome in a young woman.

Our organisation has been an enthusiastic supporter of the RMH’s cutting edge valve repair program.

We're seeing the results in Eufrasia's outcome.

Our thanks to Michael, and to all involved at RMH.

We'll keep you posted.

– Dr Noel Bayley, honorary medical adviser

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Welcome to our new Patron, Sir Peter Cosgrove

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'When I get better I want to go back to teaching'

Tomorrow we welcome 23 year old kindergarten teacher Eufrasia to Melbourne. Her heart disease has meant that Eufrasia hasn't been able to teach for the last two years; but we hope all that will change after surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital next week. Eufrasia has high hopes. "When I get better I want to go back to teaching and continue my study at university," she told us. We'll bring you more news soon!

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A new life for farmer Nelson

Farmer Nelson will soon be back in Timor-Leste, playing with his children and providing for his family, thanks to life-saving medical care provided by our partner Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney. Thanks to the Southern Courier for this great story.

Click here to read.

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'I am ready to go back to farming in my home town'

A message from our patient Nelson

"I've just been discharged from the hospital today and I already feel so much better. I can breathe better and I can walk without feeling tired or breathless. My appetite is definitely back! I’ve been enjoying the hospital food.

All the doctors, nurses and everyone at the hospital are so loving and caring. I could not believe it when one of the nurses offered to feed me, as I was struggling a bit with the drips in my arms. I can proudly say that I've been very well looked after since my arrival in Sydney. I am looking forward to sharing my wonderful experience with my family and friends. 

I feel that I am ready to go back to farming in my home town of Venilale, Timor-Leste. 

Obrigadu barak to East Timor Hearts Fund, Bairo Pite Clinic, Dr Simon Eggleton, the surgeons and all the doctors and staff at Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospital, all the volunteers and everyone involved. None of this would've been possible without your help and generosity. God bless you all, Nelson."

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'This is a milestone for East Timor Hearts Fund'

An update from Dr Noel

Good morning,

I'm delighted to report that Nelson’s mitral balloon, performed by Professor Roger Allan and Dr Virag Kushwala at the Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney has gone extremely well. Nelson is now recovering well at Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

As a result of the procedure we have seen a dramatic fall in the pressure across the valve, and the consequent back pressure on his lungs, the cause of his disabling symptoms.

Nelson will be discharged from hospital today, and back to East Timor, transformed, next week.

Our thanks to the team, including volunteer medical team member, Sydney cardiologist Simon Eggleton. Simon saw Nelson at our clinics in Dili earlier in the year, and worked hard to arrange for his treatment in Australia.

This is a milestone for East Timor Hearts Fund, as Nelson is our first case outside Victoria.

We're delighted it went so well.

Dr Noel Bayley

Honorary medical adviser

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Happy birthday Fati!

Coming to Australia for major heart surgery is a stressful experience, and that's why our patients always travel with a health support worker/interpreter by their side. One of the best is Fatima Mendonca, from Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili, who has made dozens of trips to Australia supporting our patients. Fati is currently in Sydney, with our latest patient Nelson. We're giving Fati a big shout out because today is her birthday, and she's spending it a long way from home, family and friends. Happy birthday Fati, and thank you for being there for our patients.

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Generosity x 5 - thanks Cardioscan

Today's ETHF Herogram is going out to our friend Cardioscan, which has just donated five pre-loved but totally top-notch ECG machines, used for heart screening. Chief technical officer Asaf Ziv handed over the booty today to our honorary medical adviser, Dr Noel Bayley. The machines will soon be making their way to Timor-Leste, where they will be put to good use by our partner Bairo Pite Clinic and in the new cardiac care ward at Guido Valadares National Hospital. Thanks Cardioscan for this wonderful donation.

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Benvindu Nelson!

Benvindu Nelson! We're very excited to welcome our latest patient Nelson, 31, a farmer and father of three. The symptoms and worry of his heart disease have limited almost every aspect of Nelson's life, so he's super excited to be here, with medical help only days away. 

Nelson is our first patient to be treated in Sydney, under new partnerships with Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

"To all the doctors and donors and everyone else who has done so much for me, I cannot reciprocate but I can only say thank you very much for the support, and also I’ll praying to God to bless you all," Nelson told us.

We'll be bringing you more updates about Nelson soon.

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East Timor Hearts Fund goes national with new Sydney partners

East Timor Hearts Fund goes national with new Sydney partners

14 August 2016

East Timor Hearts Fund is delighted to announce new partnerships with two leading New South Wales medical institutions, in a significant expansion of our program.

 

Recently signed agreements with Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospitals, both in Randwick, will see nine patients treated in Sydney over the next three years.

 

Eastern Heart Clinic will provide day cardiac procedures for patients, and Prince of Wales Private Hospital will provide post-operative care.

 

These latest partnerships are the first outside Victoria, and bring a welcome national focus to our growing organisation.

 

They are part of our organisation’s plan to increase the scale and scope of our work. As well as treating up to 20 patients a year in Australia, our goal is to support the development of capacity in Timor-Leste with projects including visiting surgical teams, health and medical training and research and preventative programs.

 

The first patient under the agreement will be treated this month.

 

We are excited at the opportunity to work with Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospital (owned by Healthscope) and thank both organisations sincerely for their support of our mission of delivering world-class cardiac care to our neighbours in Timor-Leste.

 

 

 

Ingrid Svendsen                                Ken Dusting

Board Chair                                        Chief Executive Officer

 

 

 Download the news release (PDF download)

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Thumbs up for healthy hearts!

Paulo and his mum Regina have arrived back in Timor-Leste, and the whole family gives Paulo's new heart the big thumbs up!

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'I will always have a special place in my heart for you'

Thirteen year old Paulo is now back in Timor-Leste, ready to enjoy his new healthy life. Before flying out he wrote this note.

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$20,000 raised in 8 weeks - thank you!

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'I can't believe I did the 5k run,' says heart patient Melinda

Our Run Melbourne ambassador, patient Melinda, has arrived home in Timor-Leste, still on a high. She sent us this pic of her mum Olinda (who travelled to Australia with her), dad Gil and cousins, and asked us to pass on this message:

"Obrigada barak to ETHF and all involved for giving me a new healthy heart back in 2014. Considering how sick I was two years ago, I can't believe that I did the 5km run yesterday! It is a big achievement for me. On behalf of my family and I, I would like to thank all the wonderful organisers for the fantastic 2016 fun run.

BIG obrigada also to my sponsors Aspect Skin Care and Smith + Tracey Architects. Soccer and running are my favourite sports. Without the help of my sponsors and ETHF my mother and I wouldn't have made it for this year's fun run to help raise funds for my favourite charity ETHF."

Our New Heart for Paulo Appeal is now a mere $1100 away from our appeal goal. Give Melinda a big thumbs up for her achievement in the best way possible - make your donation here

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Run Melbourne 2016 - it's a wrap!

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On top of the world

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Week 14: See you at Run Melbourne!

Hi all,

Race day is finally upon us on Sunday. I'm using this week to taper off and carb up for the 10k.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at the event, so please come past our marquee and say hi. We'll be doing a big team photo at 8.30am, so hope you can come a little earlier to be in that.

For those who are running and walking here is the timetable for the 5k and 10k:

  •  8:45am: Bulk Nutrients 10km run warm up, Main Stage
  • 9:15am: Bulk Nutrients 10km run starts, St Kilda Road
  • 10:00am: Runner’s World 5km run/walk warm up Main Stage
  • 10:30am: Runner’s World 5km run/walk starts, St Kilda Road

I went through my running data since I started training three months ago. In all I recorded 27 separate sessions for a total distance of 149km  that’s roughly the distance from Melbourne to Morwell!

Thanks for following my blog. I hope sharing the training journey has provided some fun, and ideally motivation.

Good luck to all those running this Sunday.

Leon

 

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A football dream come true for Paulo

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Hot chocolate and selfies

Selfie time! After a hard day of sightseeing, it was time for hot chocolate and selfies for our patients, Olga and Paulo, who have had their heart procedures in the last fortnight, and Melinda, who heart surgery two years ago, and has just arrived in Melbourne to join our #runmelbourne2016 team.

Thanks to our volunteers Daniela and Keagan.

You can find out more about our Run Melbourne ambassador Melinda, and donate, here.

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A bright future, in 3D

Having heart disease has meant that teenage patients Paulo and Olga have missed out on so much, but they are making up for it now and packing in the fun before they leave Melbourne next week. Today it was a trip to IMAX to see Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet in 3D!

A huge thanks to our patients support volunteers Daniela and Keagan for organising the outing.

Our special appeal for Paulo is still open! You can donate here.

 

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'If it wasn't for East Timor Hearts Fund I wouldn't be here today'

Our Run Melbourne ambassador Melinda arrived in Melbourne late last night, with a message for our New Heart for Paulo team:" I can't wait for the fun run on Sunday. I am ready to do my 5km run and I hope to raise enough funds to help East Timor Hearts Fund so that they can continue to save more lives. If it wasn't for East Timor Hearts Fund and everyone involved I wouldn't be here today. Back in 2014 I was really sick and couldn't even walk a short distance. Now, I can run long distances and even play soccer. I hope to see a lot of supporters on Sunday."

You can support Melinda's Run Melbourne effort for our New Heart for Paulo appeal through her fundraising page here.

 

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After the heart surgery comes the fun for Paulo and Olga

It's hard to believe that Olga and Paulo have both had heart procedures in the last fortnight. The pair are feeling better every day, and making the most of Melbourne before they return to Timor-Leste next week. Today a treat - a trip to Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium for some up close encounters with the marine life.

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Patient Melinda is running to help mend more broken hearts

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Week 13: Will a blood trade-in a cure that rundown feeling?

 

Hi all,

With nine days to go until Run Melbourne I’m getting ready and pushing my friends to top up my donations. Feel free to make a contribution yourself.

I got my run kit in the mail this week, which was exciting.

This week was less intense as usual, mainly because I’m starting to feel a bit more run down.

 

Saturday I did 7km at a 6:55 min pace, then Tuesday I did a much more sluggish and under-performing 5km at a 7:26 pace. I elected to take the rest of the week off so I could recover properly. I did donate plasma on Friday morning though, for the first time in about 5 years. Hopefully my under-performing old blood will be replaced by newer, faster blood in short order.

Until next time, happy running!

Leon

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Thanks Smith + Tracey!

Our great friends Smith + Tracey architects are not just sponsoring our Run Melbourne team, they'll be out in force on the day, walking and running to support our New Heart for Paulo appeal. Thanks Smith + Tracey 

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Paulo's date with a Melbourne Victory star

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An update from Dr Noel - a great result for Olga

****An update from Dr Noel****

Good evening all,

Olga Kotens had her mitral balloon procedure, performed this afternoon at Royal Melbourne Hospital by Dr Will Wilson and his team.

Olga had a very severely narrowed mitral valve, consequent on previous rheumatic heart disease.

When I saw her recently in Dili, she was very unwell, with severe symptoms of breathlessness and fatigue. Without early intervention, she would have died in the near future.

Her procedure today went extremely well; the post-operative echo shows a dramatic drop in the pressure across the valve. 

This will translate (immediately) into resolution of her symptoms, and in the longer term, likely normal life expectancy.

This picture (with her mother Ligia) was taken this evening; Olga is feeling much better already. 

This is a hugely rewarding result for all involved. Our thanks to Will and his expert team.

Dr Noel Bayley

Honorary medical adviser

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Olga's special visitor

Only a few hours after her life-saving heart procedure at Royal Melbourne Hospital this afternoon, Olga had a special visitor. Paulo, 13, who is making an amazing recovery after his procedure last week at Barwon Health called past to say hello. 

"I am really happy to see Paulo," Olga told us. "He is really friendly and very encouraging. I feel really happy and feel much better since the surgery. Obrigada barak (thank you very much)!"

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Let's mend this broken heart!

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Benvindu Olga!

Our latest patient Olga, 16, has arrived, along with mum Ligia, and the wonderful Alarico from Bairo Pite Clinic. A huge thanks to our patient support volunteer Inacio for airport transport duties. Olga will be having her heart surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital this week. Please keep an eye on our page for updates!

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Party at Paulo's!

Party at Paulo's! Paulo continues to make a great recovery following his heart procedure at Barwon Health's University Hospital Geelong last week.

Today Paulo, mum Regina and chaperon Fatima from Bairo Pite Clinic had guests. Patient support volunteers Inacio, Robyn and Cathie; medical volunteer Dr Louise; patient support coordinator Ana and CEO Ken popped by for lunch. Volunteer photographer Mathew Lynn was also on hand to capture the fun.

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'I can run and play again'

With a new heart, and these great new runners (a gift from one of our volunteer medical team, Dr Louise), Paulo can run and play again.

Donate to the special appeal for Paulo.

Photo credit: Mathew Lynn

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'Thank you for helping me to be healthy again.'

We're excited! Our latest patient, 16 year old Olga, arrives tomorrow, along with her mum Ligia.

Olga will have a heart operation this week at Royal Melbourne Hospital

We caught up with Olga in Dili recently, and asked her how she was feeling about coming to Australia for surgery. "Thank you for helping me to be healthy again," she said. "I hope all the doctors can help and support me to be healthy again so I can finish school. I would like to be a school teacher like my teacher Amelia, who is very good."

Please keep an eye on our blog for updates about Olga.

Photo credit: Mathew Lynn 

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Planning to do more

Today we started work on our 2017-20 strategic plan. A big thanks to Richard Ainley of Nous Group for giving up his Saturday and again sharing his exceptional facilitation skills with us.

Find out more about our current strategic plan here.

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Lifesaving device for bound for Timor, thanks to Peninsula Cardiology and GE Healthcare

We are extremely proud to be supporting Guido Valadares National Hospital in Dili to establish its first cardiac care ward. Here is our latest equipment donation, which will soon be bound Timor-Leste. Our sincere thanks to Peninsula Cardiology for the donation of the echocardiogram machine, which will be used to diagnose heart conditions. Thanks also to Greg Hyland (pictured with Dr Noel) and his colleagues at GE Healthcare for refurbishing the device free of charge. We look forward to seeing it put to work at the national hospital very soon.

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Week 12: When a plan comes together

Hi all,

I’m now three weeks away from Run Melbourne, and I’m finally hitting a sub 7 minute pace. After being at a plateau for a few weeks, I enjoyed a sudden surge in my performance, my legs feel lighter, and my form seems to have improved. It’s good to see a sudden reward after months of hard work.

This reminded me of the experience I had doing a half marathon last year - despite the level of commitment required, I found a plan, followed it to the letter, and came out properly prepared. It’s no different to saving for retirement, completing a university degree, or baking a cake.

Friday I had another rest day, then I did a 7k on Saturday at a pace of 7:15. I hit the kettlebells hard (wasn’t sore the next day though - time to up the weight), then 5km on Monday at a 6:51 pace.

I did another heavy kettlebell session Tuesday, rested Wednesday, and did another 5km with the same 6:51 pace on Thursday.

Everything’s coming together.

Until next time, happy running!

Leon

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Burger time for Paulo

Out of hospital, making a new friend, and asking for hamburgers! Our amazing 13 year old patient Paulo is on the road to recovery.

Our special fundraising appeal for Paulo is still running, so you can celebrate his new heart by making a donation.

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Thumbs up for Paulo

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Pfizer partnership stems tide of rheumatic heart disease

With the support of our friends Pfizer we are able to deliver the medicine that can stop young people from developing rheumatic heart disease.
Read all about it in the latest issue of PharmaDispatch.

Photo credit: Mat Lynn

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'I can't wait to see my son playing soccer again'

"We are so happy to be here so that Paulo can receive all the care that he needs. We know that Paulo is in very good hands. I can't wait to see my son playing soccer again with his friends and going back to school."

That's what Paulo's mum Regina told us soon after arriving in Australia.

Paulo, 13, is now in Geelong, in regional Victoria, awaiting his heart procedure this week at Barwon Health's University Hospital Geelong.

Please watch out for further updates, and to visit our New Heart for Paulo appeal page to donate.

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'Thank you for helping me,' says Paulo

Paulo, 13, and his mum Regina arrive in Australia tomorrow, ahead of Paulo's heart surgery at Barwon Health's University Hospital Geelong this week. 

Paulo asked us to pass on this message: "I would like to thank East Timor Hearts Fund and everyone involved for helping me."

Our New Heart for Paulo Appeal is nearing the half way point, and it's not too late to donate.

You can find out more, and make a contribution, here.

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Week 11: Getting your groove on, Soviet style

Hi all,

I kicked off Friday with more kettlebells - because I work from home I keep an 8kg weight in my office so I can do sets during the day. This concept is called “Greasing the Groove” and popularised by Pavel Tsatsouline, a fitness instructor from the former Soviet Union, who now lives in America.

This made me good and sore on Saturday (which is always a good sign as it means the muscle fibres in your body have broken down and will heal stronger than they were before). But it would be remiss of me not to mention that my weight has actually gone up since I started training - from 83kg to a peak of 87kg (86kg as of Friday morning). I can assure you this is not extra muscle.

But despite the extra cargo my pace is slowly improving as I regain my cardiac fitness, especially during this wonderfully crisp winter weather. I did an extremely rough 6km on Saturday at a 7:55 pace, 7km on Sunday at a 7:43 pace, and 5.67km on Tuesday with a 7:31 pace that felt especially great.

 I continued to do kettlebells on the off days.

Thursday was supposed to be a run but the wild Melbourne weather was brutal, and I decided to take a rest day and try again on the weekend.

 

Until next time, happy running!

Leon

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Join the crowd to help Alia

Today we are proud to launch our first ever crowdfunding campaign. We’re raising $20,000 in 20 days so that 15-year-old Alia can have life-saving heart surgery in Australia. Why crowdfunding? We know Australian people want to help their neighbours in Timor-Leste, and crowdfunding provides a way. Please share this post with all the generous people you know. Go to Chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart to donate.

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Week 10: Out of pocket but on pace

Hi all,

My week 10 Thursday steak dinner ended up turning into a lot of late night drinks with a client, so after resting on Friday I decided to dry out with my usual long run which resulted in a less than adequate performance – only 6KM at a 7:55 pace. Clearly I paid for it with my excesses.

I followed that on Sunday with a hard kettlebell workout which left me sore on Monday morning.  Not to be deterred I got back out running on Monday, trying out some new running shorts I bought. Unfortunately I didn’t notice they only came with a single pocket far too small to carry my phone (which is also my music player and tracking device). The photo gives you the idea:

So I had to go for an unplugged run with just a key to get back into my house, but it did give me an opportunity to focus on my technique, and funnily enough my 5km planned run turned into a 6km with a very strong pace (which I didn’t measure but could feel.) Success!

I followed that with two rest days (unplanned) but got back in the saddle Thursday with another hard kettlebell workout. Hopefully I can go for 8km+ distance on the weekend with nicely rested joints.

Given it is only six days until the end of financial year, it would be remiss of me not to mention our DGR status (every donation over $2 is tax deductible) and the fact that our social return on investment study found that every $1 invested in our program produces $9 worth of health and social benefit to East Timorese. What an excellent deal!

Until next time, happy running!

Leon

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Make a tax-time donation and mend a broken heart

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A shot in the arm for our penicillin program - thanks Pfizer Australia

A huge thanks to our excellent friend Pfizer, which has generously donated a whopping two pallets of penicillin. The medication will help us to extend preventative treatment to even more patients, stopping the development of deadly rheumatic heart disease. An equally big thanks to the always resourceful Anne Maree Mugavin of St John of God Warrnambool (pictured with Dr Noel and a fraction of the medicinal booty) for helping us solve the considerable challenge of getting the penicillin to Timor-Leste. There is currently a significant shortage of this life-saving drug in Timor-Leste, so we are proud to team with our partners to make this medicine available to those who desperately need it.

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