2013 news archive

Too big to care? Not us!

Happy Christmas from East Timor Hearts Fund

Yesterday I had the pleasure of chatting to one of our foundation donors. "Maree" sent money to help our first patients, Flavia and Ursula, in 2010, after reading newspaper reports about their plight, and Dr Noel's work in Timor-Leste. She has been with us ever since. "Maree" said she felt a real joy in contributing in our early days but having read our newsletter and seen that East Timor Hearts Fund is, in her words, "coming ahead in leaps and bounds", she wondered whether her small contributions were still needed. My answer - yes!! While we aspire in coming years to help even more young people with life-threatening heart disease, we hope we will never get so big that we disregard those kind people whose early show of faith (and ongoing generosity) have allowed us to get established and save lives since 2010. Are we too big to need and value your support? Definitely not. We need it now more than ever.


Ingrid Svendsen, chair, East Timor Hearts Fund


We heart our corporate partners!

Marta Soares
Pic: Ralph Parkhurst, Macquarie Telecom

It's fantastic to see the generous support of our partner Macquarie Telecom receiving media recognition in Melbourne's The Age newspaper and website. Without our supporters - individual donors, big corporates, small businesses and philanthropic organisations - we are nothing. Most don't do it for the kudos, but it's lovely to see this recognition all the same. If you have a CSR program and need a credible, effective partner, please contact us at info@easttimorheartsfund.org.au We'd be happy to discuss how assisting us to save young lives can help increase staff and customer loyalty and happiness. http://tinyurl.com/lhupsrw 


Our new faces

We are very pleased to announce two new additions to our board, company secretary and finance director Philip Fitzpatrick, and director Bill Appleby.

Philip and Bill bring significant additional skills to the board. We are delighted that professionals of their standing and experience have decided to volunteer to support our work.

Philip is a chartered accountant at Deloitte Australia, where he specialises in audit and not for profit organisations. Philip has a detailed undestanding of the regulatory environment for charities, and is the perfect person to be in charge of our books.

Bill holds an MBA, and is the CEO of a non-profit organisation, Jewish Care Victoria. Bill has significant experience in management and governance roles in not for profits. His skills will be invaluable as we grow and develop in coming years.

These new appointments add to a talent pool that is already deep. As well as cardiologist, Dr Noel Bayley, who has significant expertise in the field of rheumatic heart disease, our board includes chartered accountant Naida Beltrame (also from Deloitte), our Timorese-born patient support coordinator Ana Saldanha and Australia's foremost expert on East Timor, Professor Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University. Other directors have experience in fields including governance and international development. You can view their bios on our website here www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au/the-team/the-board/

East Timor Hearts Fund is a new organisation, formed informally in late 2010 and incorporated as a company limited by guarantee just over a year ago. So to have a board of this calibre at this stage of our development is exciting, and we hope reassuring to those many people and organisations who partner with us to help us achieve our mission of providing life-saving heart surgery to young people from Timor-Leste.  

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Five broken hearts mended in 2013, and more to come

Photo: Ralph Parkhurst

Our final newsletter for 2013 is out now! You can download it here.

Please share it with your friends and networks (and if you are not receiving it directly, please use the signup feature on our Facebook page or website to add yourself to the mailing list).

In this bumper edition:

* 'A very happy patient': medical wrap up with Dr Noel.

* Three minutes with...meet dedicated patient support volunteer Tomasia Fernandes-Gutteres, dispenser of Timorese food and kindness.

* Food that mends broken hearts! Tuck in to a Timorese feast and help our lifesaving work.

And finally, we will be taking a brief break over the festive season, but will be back early in 2014 with Lucas and Agripino coming to Australia for surgery and another mission to Timor-Leste by Dr Noel and our volunteer medical team.

If you are one of the many who likes to make charity donations in lieu of (or as well as) gifts, please consider supporting our work this festive season. We are 100 per cent volunteer-powered at East Timor Hearts Fund, and that means that 100 per cent of public donations go toward patient care. Donate now and see instant results when Lucas and Agripino have surgery after Christmas.

You can donate via our secure online fundraising portal www.givenow.com.au/easttimorhearts or see our website for offline options www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au/get-involved/

Thank you to all who have supported our work. We wish you all a happy and safe festive season.

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A fun final day in Melbourne for Marta

Our patient Marta had a huge day of excitement for her final day in Melbourne, with a barbecue lunch with our sponsor Macquarie Telecom, followed by a trip to the famous Myer Christmas windows, afternoon tea and then a bit of a shopping whirl. Thanks to our friends at Macquarie Telecom for organising such a great afternoon out for the girls.


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Lunch with friends - thanks Macquarie Telecom

Lunch with the gang from Macquarie Telecom

Marta, her sister Celestine and Fatima had a lovely lunch today with our friends from Macquarie Telecom. We are very grateful to Andrew Grieg and Chantelle Green for showing the girls such a great time and to Macquarie Telecom for financially supporting Marta's heart procedure. Thanks also to Ralph Parkhurst for the pics.

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Back to good health, and back to school

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An amazing recovery for Marta

Marta and koala

Our patient Marta continues to confound the doctors with her incredible recovery. She is a testament to the excellence of the care by the Royal Melbourne Hospital team, and the resilience of 16 year old heart patients.
Today Marta is cuddling her new teddy (a kind gift from visitor Anton), doing her physio exercises, eating chocolates (a present from visitor Daniella) and looking forward to being discharged from hospital tomorrow, less than a week after surgery to repair her faulty heart valve. If things continue to go well, she may even be home to East Timor on the weekend, a brilliant outcome all round.

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A Melbourne first, Timorese food on the menu!

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It's official - coffee is good for your heart!

Our cafe partners

As a small organisation with no marketing budget, it's a challenge for East Timor Hearts Fund to spread the word about our work. That's why we are so proud to launch our new cafe partners program, which is now up and running at three Melbourne cafes.

The program is part of our alliance with Wild Timor Coffee, a social enterprise set up by former East Timor peacekeepers to assist coffee growers in Timor-Leste. So far we have three Melbourne cafes on board, Down to Earth Coffee and Tea House in Clifton Hill, Caffe Strada in Ivanhoe and our newest coffee purveyor, Let Me Be Frank in South Melbourne, all of which stock Wild Timor Coffee's excellent product.

Each cafe is doing something a little different. Down to Earth and Let Me Be Frank have a special loyalty card, with donation for each one completed; while Caffe Strada has gone all out and created a special Timorese item on the menu, and will make a donation for each sold (more about this exciting development soon). Wild Timor Coffee is also making a contribution for each coffee card completed, as well as supporting us in other ways.

These are all small businesses operating in a competitive environment, and so we are enormously grateful for their willingness to partner with us.

We're also very grateful to those who have donated services to help us produce our cafe partner marketing materials, photographer Mat Lynn, whose beautiful image of Arminda appears on our new postcard; the talented designers at Struck & Spink; and our very dear friends at bannersaustralia.net.au and HMS Print Management.

So if you're out and about in Melbourne and find yourself in need of caffeination, or if you are lucky enough to have one of these fine establishments as your local cafe, please call in, grab a superb Wild Timor Coffee brew and let the people behind the counter know how much you appreciate their support of East Timor Hearts Fund. 

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'Better than good', say medicos

Friends, we are so pleased to let you know that Dr Noel has just had word from Marta's surgeon, Marco Lorobina, of Royal Melbourne Hospital and he reports that things went "better than good" with Marta's heart valve surgery this morning.

Unlike some of our other patients, Marta had a valve repair rather than replacement. Dr Noel says it's trickier but where appropriate can be a much better result for the patient's long-term care. So far, it looks like an excellent result. Please keep an eye on this blog for further updates. And thank you for all the good wishes, please keep them coming!

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Welcome to Australia Marta!

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Hello Marta! Our new patient is on the way

We are so excited here at East Timor Hearts Fund HQ, as we put the finishing touches on the arrangements for the arrival of our next patient, Marta, 16, who departs Dili for Melbourne tomorrow.

As always, getting a patient to Australia and successfully treated is a big group effort, involving our friends at Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili; our sponsor Toll Remote Logistics, which has arranged transport for Marta, her sister Celestine, and the dedicated Fatima, from Bairo Pite Clinic; sponsor Macquarie Telecom, which is financially supporting Marta's operation and last but by no means least, the wonderful folk at Royal Melbourne Hospital.


Please watch the page for further information, and feel free to leave your messages of support in the comments below (we'll make sure Marta sees them).

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Good bye and good health, Joaninha!

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Media release - Heart Op Gives Timorese Teen a Sporting Chance

Media release - Heart Op Gives Timorese Teen a Sporting Chance
Media release_heart op gives Timorese te
Adobe Acrobat Document 197.3 KB
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From patient to tourist

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"A great result!"

Joaninha Noel and Fari

Dr Noel paid a visit to check up on our patient Joaninha this morning. We think this picture speaks for itself! Noel reports that Joaninha (that's her on the left) is feeling much better and the signs are positive that her heart is on the improve following her heart valve procedure at MonashHeart on Thursday. In Dr Noel's words: "A great result." 

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Out of hospital and on the road to recovery

We are delighted to report that our patient Joaninha continues to make a great recovery following her mitral balloon procedure at MonashHeart yesterday, and was discharged this afternoon. Our sincere thanks to Professor Richard Harper and all of the team at MonashHeart.

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Chocolate o'clock - for a good cause!

Kangan sweet tooths

It's nearly chocolate o'clock, and what better time to say a heartfelt thanks to our friends at Kangan Institute, whose sweet office fundraiser has so far made more than $400 to assist our work.
Kirsten Svendsen and her colleagues from the People and Organisational Development Group at the Broadmeadows campus in Melbourne have been doing a grand job over recent months, raising $200 in profits from the office chocolate box, which Kangan Institute generously matched through its community support program. This is a fantastic effort, and to put it in perspective, it's about 50 per cent of the cost of accommodation for a patient and their accompanying health support worker. As we are now preparing for our next patient, Marta, who will be here at the end of the month, this generous donation is very timely. Our thanks to Kangan and its office sweet tooths. Please keep up the great work!

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Joaninha on the road to good health

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Our unsung hero

Fatima and Joanina

Having heart surgery is stressful enough at the best of times, but when you are travelling overseas and don't speak the language, it's even more so. That's why all of our patients are accompanied by a multi-lingual health worker, who flies to Australia with them and stays by their side throughout. Health worker Fatima Mendonca, from our partner in Dili Bairo Pite Clinic, is accompanying our latest patient Joanina Faria, who will be having a heart valve procedure at MonashHeart in Melbourne tomorrow. Fati is one of the unsung heroes of our operation; we are very grateful for her assistance.

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The waiting is almost over for Joaninha

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Welcome to Australia Joanina!

Joanina and Fatima

Our latest patient Joanina, and trusty companion Fatima from Bairo Pite Clinic, arrived in Melbourne early this morning, and our volunteer photographer Eric Jong was on hand to meet them. Joanina is exhausted after travelling overnight, but happy to be here. She'll be having a mitral balloon procedure at MonashHeart later this week. A big thanks to Eric for turning out this morning to meet the ladies. Please keep an eye on this blog for updates on Joanina's progress.

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Preparing a hearty welcome for Joanina


We are counting down the days until our new patient, Joanina, arrives. Joanina, 19, is due to fly in on Monday and is having a mitral balloon procedure at MonashHeart in Melbourne next Thursday.

We are very grateful to all of the individual donors who have helped to make Joanina's treatment possible, and also to our foundation sponsor Toll Remote Logistics, for assisting with airfares; MonashHeart for its ongoing support and medical supplier Medtronic, which has generously donated the medical balloon which will be used in Joanina's procedure.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist Joanina and other patients, please go to our secure online fundraising page http://www.givenow.com.au/easttimorhearts. And please keep an eye on this  blog for further updates.

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Perfect day for a cup of coffee

Feel like you need a bit of a “heart-starter” this morning? Today marks World Heart Day but coincidentally it’s also International Coffee day! And therefore it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce you to our café partners.

Caffe Strada in Ivanhoe is the latest Melbourne café to come on board as a partner, and joins our other partner café Down to Earth Café in Clifton Hill, both of which stock and serve coffee from another one of our partners, Wild Timor Coffee. The team at Wild Timor Coffee are master coffee roasters and have a long association with Timor-Leste.

So start your day with an amazing latte, long black, piccolo or whatever your favourite choice of brew and know that you’ll be benefiting coffee growers, families and communities in Timor-Leste and also East Timor Hearts Fund at the same time.

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Leonito is back at school with a healthy heart

Patient Leonito Carlos

Teenager Leonito Carlos is back at school following heart surgery in Australia in June. Find out more about Leonito's journey to health in our latest "Success Story" 


To support patients like Leonito please go to our secure online fundraising page 


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Three pictures of health

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'I am proud to support East Timor Hearts Fund,' says Timor-Leste PM Xanana Gusmao

"I am proud to support and encourage the East Timor Hearts Fund and I hope you will offer it similar support."

We are honoured and thrilled to have received a letter of endorsement from the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

More details here.


Successful Dili clinics: latest news from Dr Noel

The ETHF volunteer medical team

I am just back from a very good trip to Dili.
We did clinics for two days at Bairo Pite Clinic, with great support from social worker Alarico da Conceicao, a constant presence now for years, and a good friend to ETHF.

My life was made much easier by the input of Julie Kean, one of our board members, who came along and not only transformed the usually rather chaotic clinic into an orderly process (we had in trays and out trays!) but also put in a huge effort to get the records of current and previous patients properly filed.
Future clinics will now be much more organised.
Two excellent Deakin University medical students, Bec Meltzer and Odette Rodda, and one of our junior medical staff, Alex, were also a huge help and, I hope, learned a good bit of cardiology.
We saw a lot of patients over the two days. It was such a pleasure to see so many of our patients who've had surgery doing very well. It was a special pleasure to see Arminda blossoming after her mitral valve balloon procedure earlier in the year. She's gone from a very ill young girl to a normal life.
We identified two new patients for surgery in Australia, one a mitral valve replacement, the other, like Arminda, a mitral balloon. We'll have more news on them shortly.
The trip was hard work for everyone concerned, but I think we all came away content both with what we've achieved so far, and with what lies before us.


Go team Racing Hearts!

Team Racing Hearts

We are hugely grateful to Deakin University med students Tash Vasudeva, Odette Rodda, Jenny Brommeyer and Lucy Dobson who on Sunday will undertake the Run Melbourne marathon to raise money for us.

Team "Racing Hearts" is urging supporters to make a donation to assist our work via our fundraising page at www.givenow.com.au/easttimorhearts
Tash was part of our volunteer medical team which went to Dili in April, and identified patients for assistance including 12 year old Arminda, and 18 year old Leonito, both of whom have recently had heart surgery and are now happy and healthy back in East Timor. Odette has also been to East Timor and worked at Bairo Pite Clinic, our partner in Dili.
This is a mighty commitment from a group of young medicos who have already gone above and beyond for us. We're wishing them all the very best for the event. Go Team Racing Hearts!


Heartfelt thanks to the Andrew Jack Charitable Trust

Benefactor Andrew Jack

We are delighted to let you know about our first major philanthropic bequest, from the Warrnambool-Portland-based Andrew Jack Charitable Trust. The fund's trustees made the significant donation after reading about us in the Sunday Age recently. As a charity founded in Warrnambool (Dr Noel Bayley's home town) and one with a strong track record and no administrative overheads, the trustees were certain Mr Jack would have approved.
Andrew Jack was a bachelor farmer and champion cattle breeder. He was a community-minded man,  heavily involved in Portland Rotary Club and a major supporter of the Rotary Foundation. He was interested in improving health care in developing countries. Andrew Jack sadly passed away in 2011, aged 74, and left his property and his sizeable estate to charity.
East Timor Hearts Fund is honoured to receive this significant contribution, which will allow us to extend the scope of our work. We thank the family of Andrew Jack, and the trustees of his fund, Stephen Blaker, Patrick Howman and Kym Stock. We undertake to continue to be a cause of which Andrew Jack would be proud.

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Professor Damien Kingsbury joins our board

Damien Kingsbury

We are excited to welcome to our board author and academic Professor Damien Kingsbury. Damien has vast experience working with NGOs and the government in Timor-Leste, and we are excited that he will be using his networks and knowhow to assist our work.
You can find out more about Damien and our other directors on our website.

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Coffee for a good cause

Down  to Earth Coffee and Tea House

We are excited to let you know that Down to Earth Coffee and Tea House in Melbourne has just signed up as our very first cafe partner! The lovely Antje at Down to Earth is a great supporter of Timor-Leste, and the cafe stocks Wild Timor Coffee, a superb brew that benefits farmers and communities in East Timor. We are working on some exciting things together, so please stay tuned for details (and in the meantime, please pop past Down to Earth for coffee or lunch if you are in Melbourne - you'll find it at 308 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill).

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'Thank you for giving him the gift of life,' says Leonito's nurse

Leonito and nurse Antonieta
Leonito and nurse Antonieta Chung

The story of Leonito's journey to health has touched many people, including the nursing staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where he had his double valve replacement surgery last week.

One of the nursing staff contacted us to pass on this beautiful photo and message: "I'm a nurse (originally from Timor) working at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. I had the pleasure of looking after Leonito Carlos as my patient. He has made an amazing recovery thanks to the generosity of so many people. Thank you for giving him the gift of life."

Our thanks to Nurse Antonieta and all of the staff at Royal Melbourne Hospital for their care.

Leonito returns to Timor-Leste tomorrow, and now he has his whole life ahead of him.


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What a good sport!

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A picture of good health!

Leonito - a picture of health

Friends, we are so happy to let you know that Leonito Carlos continues to make a great recovery. The Dili secondary school student had double valve replacement surgery last Wednesday. He has bounced back from the open heart surgery beautifully and tomorrow he will be discharged from hospital. All going well, he'll return to East Timor with his new heart and health next week.

As you can see from our photo (by volunteer photographer Josh Crupi) he's understandably all smiles now, and a picture of good health.

Again we thank surgeon Marco Larobina and the team at Royal Melbourne Hospital - your skill and care have been magnificent.

But of course we could never get our patients to hospital in the first place without the support of all of you - ordinary Australians who believe in sharing the lucky country's good fortune.

If you would like to make a gift to help patients like Leonito before the end of the financial year there is still time. Please pop by our secure online fundraising page www.givenow.com.au/easttimorhearts or check our website for other options www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au/get-involved/

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East Timor Hearts Fund now tax deductible!

Just in time for end of financial year gifts, we are thrilled to announce that we have just been notified that the Australian Taxation Office has formally endorsed us as a Deductible Gift Recipient, following our application to the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission for designation as a Public Benevolent Institution. This means that donations to us are now tax deductible.
Our tax deductible status is backdated to early this year so if you have donated in the past and need a receipt please contact us. If you have not yet donated and would like to help our work and boost your tax return, you can do so via our new secure online facility.

Thank you for your support. With your help, we are saving lives and changing lives for young East Timorese people.


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Special edition e-news out now! Leonito on the road to recovery

Our latest e-news is out now! This is a special Leonito wrap up edition with all the latest on our latest patient, who is well on the road to recovery following his heart surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital this week, and is likely to be out of intensive care this  weekend. Click here to subscribe and view the newsletter online.

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Remarkable recovery, says Dr Noel

Patient Leonito Carlos, 18, continues to recover remarkably well after double valve replacement surgery this week, reports East Timor Hearts Fund honourary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley.
Seen here in Intensive Care at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Leonito, a secondary student from Dili, is off all cardiac support, and should be out to the general ward tomorrow.
A fabulous result, and a credit to the skill of the surgical and ICU team at RMH.


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Leonito's recovery

A big thanks to surgeon Maraco Larobina and all of our friends at Royal Melbourne Hospital for their efforts in caring for Leonito. We are thrilled that his double valve replacement surgery yesterday went so well and grateful to everyone who contributed to make this possible, including our sponsor Macquarie Telecom, which supported Leonito's procedure.
A big thanks too to volunteer photographer Josh Crupi who has been on hand to capture the journey.


Successful double valve surgery for Leonito

An update from East Timor Hearts Fund honourary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley on patient Leonito Carlos:
"Delighted to say that Leonito's surgery has gone very well.
Marco Larobina, cardiac surgeon, and his team at Royal Melbourne Hospital, have replaced his two leaky valves with mechanical valves.
He's out of theatre and recovering in intensive care, and all is smooth sailing so far.
We expect an outstanding result for this young man with life-threatening rheumatic heart disease."

This is a brilliant outcome. Thanks to the team at Royal Melbourne Hospital and you our supporters.



Welcome to Melbourne Leonito!

On a chilly winter morning in Melbourne our photographer Josh Crupi was on hand to give our latest patient, secondary school student Leonito Carlos, a warm welcome on behalf of all of us at East Timor Hearts Fund. Leonito (and trusty travelling companion, Bairo Pite Clinic health worker Alarico) were also met by our kind volunteer driver Ronan, from our sponsor Macquarie Telecom. Leonito is due to have double valve replacement surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital this week. Stay tuned for updates about his progress.


Making headlines

Our volunteer official photographer Mathew Lynn captured every stage of the journey for patients Arminda, 12, and Maria, when they came to Australia last month for surgery. Arminda made the front page and the Sunday Age and  Fairfax news websites around the country published a full photo essay. Hope you enjoy them!




New patient Leonito arrives tomorrow!

We're pretty excited here at East Timor Hearts Fund HQ because tomorrow morning our latest patient, Leonito Carlos, arrives!
Leonito and trusty companion Alarico from Bairo Pite Clinic are travelling overnight from Dili and will arrive in the morning.
Volunteer Ronan, from our sponsor Macquarie Telecom, will be meeting the boys at the airport (with some nice winter woollies which we are sure will be much appreciated). Thanks Ronan!
Leonito is having a double valve replacement at Royal Melbourne Hospital this week,with surgeon Macro Larobina.
Leonito, a secondary school student, is one of the patients identified by Dr Noel and our volunteer medical team (including Deakin University med student Natasha Vasudeva, pictured with Leonito) during clinics in Dili in April.
His condition is criticial. He's been living with debilitating symptoms for years. As he explained: "Because I have heart disease, it makes me feel stressed and I don’t feel happy in my life. Every day I feel breathless. I have chest pain when I take a breath, shortness of breath and sometimes I feel like my heart is going to explode."
This operation will mean a radical improvement to Leonito's quality of life, and peace of mind for him and his family.
We'll keep you posted with more news about Leonito so please watch out for updates.