2017 news archive

Charity tick of approval

We are a proud recipient of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Tick. The tick tells donors that we are registered by the ACNC, and that our accounts and other information that donors want to know about is publicly available via the online Charity Register.We couldn't do what we do without the support of our donors, so we thank the ACNC for helping us to give donors confidence.

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Help you can bank on

Congrats to the team from ANZ Australia who snatched the coveted perpetual trophy away from last year's winners, rival bank NAB, at yesterday's Swing into Action to Mend a Broken Heart golf day. But of course the real winners are the young people with untreated heart disease in Timor-Leste, who rely on our services. The day raised more than $16,000, which will support a patient's life-saving heart surgery. Thanks to all the players, and our sponsors ANZ, 8bit, ConnectPM, Intech3 and Plan Management Partners.

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Swinging into action to mend a broken heart

A fantastic turnout for our second annual Swing into Action to Mend a Broken Heart golf day today. We raised more than $16,000! A big thanks to our generous supporters, Plan Management Partners, ANZ, 8bit, ConnectPM and Intech3, and our official sunscreen supplier Vitality Brands, who helped us stay sun smart all day.

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A revolutionary volunteer

Today’s East Timor Hearts Fund herogram goes to our hardworking clinic coordinator Nicki Mock. As well as organising our clinics when our volunteer medical team is in Timor-Leste, Nicki has revolutionised our clinical records, allowing us to go completely paperless. Nicki’s quiet dedication shows the value that professional volunteers bring to East Timor Hearts Fund. We are a small organisation, but through the efforts of people like Nicki, who volunteer countless hours to support our work, we make our donor dollars go a long way.  Please donate to help us mend more broken hearts.

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Farmer Nelson's wish fulfilled

Nelson's simple wish was to be well enough to return to farming, and to give his family a happy life. It was fulfilled when he had a high-tech mitral balloon procedure in Australia last year. This week cardiologist Dr Simon Eggleton caught up with Nelson in Timor-Leste, and got to see and hear about how his life has been transformed. More of the back story here.

Please help us mend more broken hearts - make a tax deductible donation.

 

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The smiles that say it all

It's always a massive highlight for our volunteer medical team to catch up with patients and see how well they are doing after their heart surgery. The smiles from young mum Rosalina, teenage student Olga and university student Esmenia say it all!

You can help us mend more broken hearts like these with a tax-deductible donation.

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A shocking heart

It takes a lot to shock our volunteer medicos. But cardiologist Dr Simon Eggleton was stunned when he looked at the ultrasound of Timotio’s heart valve, and the damage caused by rheumatic heart disease. The narrowing was the most severe he had seen – so it’s no surprise that Timotio had been weak, breathless and struggling to go to school and study. All of that is in the past now, following a high-tech mitral balloon procedure Eastern Heart Clinic last week. Yesterday, the 21-year-old had a check-up and this time, the results were a pleasant surprise. Timotio will soon be back to Timor-Leste, and with renewed good health, can work toward his dream of studying to become a doctor.

Please help us mend more broken hearts - make a tax deductible donation.

 

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A healthy grin

A healthy grin from our patient Timotio, after his successful mitral balloon procedure this week. The 21-year-old will now be able to get back to his studies, and work toward his dream of becoming a health professional.

Our thanks to doctors Virag Kushwaha and Simon Eggleton, our partners Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospital and health support worker Ricky, who accompanied Timotio to Australia.

Please help us mend more broken hearts - make a tax deductible donation.

 

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A dream of good health coming true for Timotio

Timotio, 21, is studying science and aspires to be a doctor or nurse. But with worsening heart disease symptoms, including a racing heart and breathlessness, daily life has been hard. “I am unhappy because I have no energy to work, study and play with my friends,” Timotio said. Early in the year Timotio, who lives in Baucau, east of Dili, was referred to our volunteer medical team; on Monday he arrives in Australia, where he will have a high-tech mitral balloon procedure at Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney. We’re looking forward to welcoming Timotio; and giving him good health to chase his dream of becoming a health professional and helping others.

Please donate to help us mend more broken hearts.

 

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'You saved my husband and my son'

Dad of six Filomeno continues to make a great recovery after his heart tumour operation last week. His family back home (including 14 year old Paulo, who last year also had heart surgery in Australia) are counting down the days until his return.

Filomeno’s wife Regina asked us to pass on thanks to all of the supporters who made surgery possible for her husband.

"I thank you not only for myself but on behalf of our six children and our extended family and our many friends. The gratitude we feel today will remain with us for the rest of our lives,” Regina told us.

“We don't have anything to pay back but our family will always pray to God to give you all good health and strength so that you can continue to do the wonderful work that you are doing in saving Timorese lives.

“You did not only save my husband's life but, you did also save my son Paulo and many other Timorese lives as well.

“God Bless you all. Obrigada barak!"

Your tax deductible donation will allow us to mend another broken heart.

 

Photo credit: Hugh Miley

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Bulldogs champion Lin Jong pays a visit

Our patient Filomeno, who is recovering well after heart tumour surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital last Friday, had a very special visitor today, our ambassador, Western Bulldogs champion Lin Jong. 

Filomeno is one half of our first ever “dad and son double” – a year ago we gave his 13-year-old son Paulo life-saving surgery in Australia, and when a routine check-up with our volunteer medical team revealed Filomeno’s tumour, we were delighted to be able to help him as well.

"There are no amount of words for me to express the extreme gratitude I have in my new healthy heart,” Filomeno told us.

“May God richly bless you and protect you so that you can continue to save more lives in my dear homeland Timor-Leste." 

Your tax deductible donation will allow us to mend another broken heart.

 

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An update from our CEO – East Timor Hearts Fund services not affected by restructure at Bairo Pite Clinic

An update from our CEO  East Timor Hearts Fund services not affected by restructure at Bairo Pite Clinic

The CEO of Bairo Pite Clinic Australia has briefed me about the restructure of its services, which is now underway.

I wish Bairo Pite Clinic Australia every success in continuing to work to an outcome that is positive for the people and the health system in Timor-Leste.

In the meantime, our focus is on the continued smooth running of our heart-health activities in Timor-Leste, including cardiac screening clinics, patient scheduling and pre-surgery logistics and our early-intervention penicillin program.

There is no interruption to the services we provide in Timor-Leste and Australia. Our patient surgery program continues, as does planning for our September round of cardiac screening clinics, which will take place at Guido Valadares National Hospital and also in the districts.

We continue to monitor progress and receive updates from Bairo Pite Clinic Australia. I wish all parties strength and wisdom in working to a solution focused on ensuring the best health services for those who need it most in Timor-Leste.

– Stuart Thomson, CEO

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Timorese dad and son in heart health double act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Hugh Miley

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Goat tracks, comradeship and an awe-inspiring sunrise - the Trans-Timor Trek

Vertical climbing, goat tracks, Timorese comradeship and an awe-inspiring mountaintop sunrise. Our board chair Ingrid Svendsen has just returned from the gruelling 170km inaugural Earth Trails Trans-Timor Trek. In the first four days alone, the 11 trekkers, carrying full packs, climbed 5000 metres in elevation. Ingrid’s verdict: “The toughest hiking I could conceive of.” Check out her video – Ingrid says it won’t win any academy awards for production values, but she hopes it will inspire you.

The trek is so close to its goal of raising $20,000 to provide life-saving heart surgery for a patient. Please pop across to Ingrid’s fundraising page to donate.

 

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Meliana's seven great reasons to strive for health

We’re hugely excited to let you know that our patient Meliana is making a great recovery from this week’s heart procedure. Meliana (pictured here with interventional cardiologist Dr Will Wilson) has now been discharged from Royal Melbourne Hospital, and if her recovery continues to go well, will soon be returning to sunny Timor-Leste. Meliana has many reasons to strive for good health – her seven children (aged between two and 13) and her ambition to return to university studies amongst them. Meliana told us: “I want to say thank you very much to the doctors, donors and everyone else who has helped me.” We’re also hugely grateful to Dr Wilson and all of the nursing and medical colleagues at Royal Melbourne Hospital who have contributed to this outstanding result for Meliana. Thank you for your support; together we are mending broken hearts.

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Landmark heart health study launched

 

Last October we partnered to deliver a landmark rheumatic heart disease study, as part of our commitment to tackle the root cases of poor heart heath in Timor-Leste. Today researcher Kim Davis of Royal Darwin Hospital presented the findings at the 7th World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery in Barcelona. The bad news is that the findings confirm that Timor-Leste has amongst the world's highest rates of this treatable, preventable form of heart disease. The good news is that, along with our project partners, we plan to use the study as a platform for greater action to tackle this devastating disease

More background about the study here.

 

 

 

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From cows to celebrities, it's all in a day's work for this trek medic

Meet Damo Liddy, official medic to the Trans-Timor Trek

 

Dysentery, sprains, infections and dehydration – it will be all in a day’s work Damo Liddy, the official medic for the inaugural 100km Trans-Timor Trek. Damo’s job will be to help keep the 11 trekkers taking part in the healthy and mobile as they traverse Timor-Leste on the 13-day heart health hike in July and August 2017. The Queensland paramedic has treated celebrities and centenarians, delivered babies and once got asked to help a cow having a seizure, so he’s prepared for anything!

 

What does the role of trek medic involve?

In a trek medic’s perfect tour, you carry a kit full of everything you may need to use, but never have to open your kit. I am prepared to provide varied levels of first aid care for our team and for any locals that may need our attention along the way.   

 

What sort of medical issues are you expecting to see?

The risks we face as a trekking team vary, but include exposure to mosquito-borne illness; dysentery; dehydration; electrolyte illnesses; sprains, strains and musculo-skeletal injuries; and blisters. And also potentially some of the most emotionally-challenging moments people may have had in their adventure-bound lives! I am prepared for anything, yet extremely hopeful for the individual team members’ sakes, that none of it occurs. Our goal at Earth Trails is to get every team member from Dili in the north to the beach at Betano in the south of Timor-Leste with an amazing story to tell.

 

Will it be difficult to be the official medic on a trip where there are so many other paramedics? Do medics make good patients?

Medics are all individuals, and therefore all come with their own personalities, attitudes and levels of resilience.

I believe that everyone has something to offer in 95 per cent of all circumstances in life, and so I plan on acting as the glue that helps this team bond together and look after each other throughout our amazing time together in Timor-Leste.

In my time on-road working as a paramedic, I have treated celebrities, famous athletes, my own supervisors and their families, and plenty of doctors, nurses and key community figures, as well as delivered babies and treated three separate 104-year-old patients. I have no challenge providing care to anyone that requires my attention throughout this trek. It is almost impossible to speculate if our team of medics themselves will be good, bad or indifferent as patients if things turn bad for any one individual on the team. In my personal experience, tough times tend to produce unlikely heroes, and you can see amazing things happen when a team work together for a common purpose. Earth Trails has already laid down a proven track record of success in every previous expedition region they have focused on, and I have a feeling that Timor-Leste is going to quickly become one of their absolute best.   

 

What made you decide to volunteer for the role?

I am inspired by the work that the team at Earth Trails does, and have a strong desire to continue to contribute toward good outcomes for underprivileged people whenever I can afford to do so. Sometimes that means raising money and paying for equipment, medications, infrastructure and basic needs, and sometimes that means simply donating your time to contribute toward good outcomes. This trip is a bit of a dream for me, to be able to support a team of people with my knowledge and dedication, that are supporting such a great cause themselves.

Every day in a developing world country in my previous traveling experiences has been a life changing day, with the things you see, and the lessons that the circumstances of these peoples lives accidently teach you.

It is my first ever trip to Timor Leste, but the passion that trek leader Mick Stuth from trek organiser  Earth Trails Adventures has for the region when he speaks about it, makes me feel like I almost already owe this region something, before we even lay down footprints on the Trans-Timor Trek trail.

I feel honored to have been selected for the medic role on the Earth Trails Trans-Timor Trek.    

 

Why were you keen to support the trek for East Timor Hearts Fund?

I think the work East Timor Hearts Fund does is incredible, and I can speak from personal experience also in saying that it is one of the biggest gifts you could ever receive in this world when you get to save someone’s life through the simple actions you take performing the work that you do. ETHF regularly saves the lives of young East Timorese who otherwise would never have had a second chance. The donation of my time and efforts is a simple way for me to say thank you to the East Timor Hearts Fund team for their incredibly generous gift to Timor-Leste.

    

What's the strangest/most interesting thing that's happened to you as a wilderness medic?

Several years ago we were on a trek in the deep north of New Zealand when we came across a giant eagle trapped in a bear claw wildlife trap. He had one of his legs caught in a large sprung metal trap and looked exhausted and in severe distress. We carefully approached him and he tried to fly away, but couldn’t move to far. We were very keen to let the bird go free, so we set about doing that, but we had no idea about how to use the trap. A few of us just wrestled it open and the eagle skipped off through the scrub, made a few awkward flaps of his giant wings and then soared off into the sky above us. We were so excited to be a part of that. The coolest part was that the eagle hung around and hovered above us for almost the next half an hour, almost as if to say thank you to us for freeing him. That was a pretty special moment in life, even though it wasn’t your typical medic thing.

While on the theme of animals too, I have also been asked to stop a cow from having a seizure at a camp draft event in central Queensland. It is nice to think that people put that much faith in what you can do as a medic, that you could stop a traumatic seizure in a 700kg animal! There is never a dull day in your life as a paramedic. I am sure during the long nights on our Trans-Timor Trek we will all share stories about then random moments our jobs have delivered us throughout the years.   

     

What's the most used item in your medic kit?

On a trip like this, I think the blister tape will get a solid workout. Not everyone has the opportunity in their everyday life to apply the right preparation for these types of trips, and the weather is always the unpredictable factor on these excursions. It can be glorious for the entire time, and people will still get banged up, but when it decides to pour its heart out with rain like only the tropics know how to deliver, the way we humans move and the way we negotiate trekking hazards, changes dramatically, and it opens the team up to a significantly increased risk of rubs, bumps and bust ups. Not everything is minor trauma based issues though. Mental health and medical condition management are just as important to keep a good handle on throughout the trek. Almost everyone on the Trans-Timor Trek has some form of medical background, so I would imagine that most of our team will take pride (and some kind of bragging rights) on not needing any assistance for the duration of our trek.  

 

This is your first trip to Timor-Leste – what are you expecting?

I have endeavored to do a fair amount of research into the region, and also into the amazing service that East Timor Hearts Fund supplies. I don’t want to turn up as the stranger in the crowd, and be unprepared for what we have ahead of us.

As a trek medic, you just have to prepare yourself to deal with every circumstance as it arises, and this has always proven to be the best approach. To just have a rough idea of the potential for complications, but at the same time, to not have any preconceived ideas or expectations of what may or may not occur.

 

Donate to the trek and find out more here.

 

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Where to find us at Run Melbourne

If you're joining us at the Run Melbourne fun run and walk, this is where you'll find us on the morning.

Our marquee is on River Terrace, behind Federation Square.

Please come past at 8.30, before your event, to meet our special guest, patient Bete, and be in the big team photo.

There's still time to sign up and support our team to reach our goal of raising $20,000 for a patient's life-saving heart surgery. Or use the link below for more information.

Hope to see you there!

 

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Big-hearted by design - thanks Smith+Tracey Architects!

Today's East Timor Hearts Fund herogram is going out to our lovely friends Smith+Tracey Architects, who are once again a major sponsor of our Run Melbourne team.

A huge thanks to Geoff and the big-hearted team from Smith+Tracey.

If you haven't yet jumped on board with Team Mending Broken Hearts there's still time!

All the links and info you need are on our website .

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Our Run Melbourne ambassador Bete's running for healthy hearts

Eight months after life-saving heart surgery in Australia, Timorese sports teacher Bete Naben is returning to Melbourne to thank donors and show off her newfound health at a fun run.

The mother of three was born with Ventricular Septal Defect or “hole in the heart”. She was too sick to teach, and feared not seeing her children grow up. East Timor Hearts Fund came to her aid last November, flying her to Australia for complex surgery at University Hospital Geelong.

Now well, and able to return to work and play soccer and volleyball, Bete said she wanted to do Run Melbourne to inspire future patients, and to raise awareness about East Timor Hearts Fund’s “amazing” work.

“For me, it will be a great challenge and achievement, because when I was so sick I had given up hope,” Bete said.

“I never thought that I would ever be healthy again, let alone running five kilometres.”

East Timor Hearts Fund CEO Stuart Thomson said Bete was living proof of the value of the fund’s work, which was made possible by donors and medical, community and corporate partners across Australia.

“To see the burden of critical heart disease lifted from Bete and her family is very humbling,” Mr Thomson said.

“It is not just Bete and her family who benefit – as a teacher Bete is shaping the next generation of young Timorese and making an invaluable contribution to her community and country.”

Mr Thomson said an independent social return on investment study had found that every dollar invested in the organisation’s program returned nine dollars in health and social benefits.

“By changing one life, we can help build a better future for our neighbours in Timor-Leste,” he said.

Mr Thomson said he hoped supporters who had donated to help fund surgery for Bete and patients like her would turn out in force to meet her at Run Melbourne on 30 July.

As well as her first ever fun run, Bete said she was keen to try AFL football while in Melbourne. “I've never played AFL but would love to try. I think it will be a great experience and maybe something that I can take back to Timor and teach my kids.”

Donate to Bete's Run Melbourne fundraising effort.

Sincere thanks to our Run Melbourne 2017 sponsors Russell Kennedy Lawyers and Smith + Tracey architects, whose generous support is allowing Bete to travel to Melbourne.

 

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Media release Russell Kennedy Lawyers helping to mend broken hearts

Media release

Russell Kennedy Lawyers helping to mend broken hearts

21 June 2017

East Timor Hearts Fund is delighted to welcome leading law firm Russell Kennedy Lawyers as a major sponsor of its 2017 Run Melbourne team.

CEO Stuart Thomson Russell Kennedy’s decision to get on board with the team was just of the myriad of ways the firm was supporting East Timor Hearts Fund.

“Russell Kennedy is a quiet hero in the East Timor Hearts Fund story.  Since 2012, Russell Kennedy has partnered with East Timor Hearts Fund, way beyond an allocation of ‘six-minute billing units’,” Mr Thomson said.

"As well as solving our legal and tax issues, Russell Kennedy provides CBD office accommodation; meeting and event venues; catering and event support; networking opportunities; administrative support and more.

“This practical support is a key reason we’ve been able to transform in just five short years from charity start-up to an emerging development-focussed medical NGO.”

Mr Thomson said support from partners including Russell Kennedy would see former patient Bete Naben return to join the East Timor Hearts Fund team at Run Melbourne.

Since successful surgery last November to repair a “hole in the heart”, the mother of three and sports teacher had resumed teaching and playing soccer and volleyball.

Mr Thomson said he met with Bete and her family on a recent visit to Timor-Leste and Bete was keenly looking forward to showing off her newfound health at the run.

“We are truly fortunate to have a friend like Russell Kennedy. I’m looking forward to seeing staff from the firm out in force at Run Melbourne on 30 July, alongside our volunteers, medicos and our event ambassador Bete.”

Paul Gleeson, Managing Director at Russell Kennedy Lawyers, said he was very proud of the way that staff at the firm actively engaged in initiatives that directly benefited community partners, such as fundraising or donating time to undertake legal work for organisations such as East Timor Hearts Fund.

“I hope the Run Melbourne fundraising drive will be successful for the Fund and I look forward to seeing a large contingent of staff at the start line,” Mr Gleeson said.

 

Media enquiries

Ingrid Svendsen, volunteer communications adviser, East Timor Hearts Fund, ingrid.svendsen@easttimorhearts.org.au

 

Kerry Riordan, Business Development Consultant, Russell Kennedy Lawyers, + 61 3 9609 1528, kriordan@rk.com.au

 

About Russell Kennedy Lawyers Russell Kennedy is a law firm that delivers expert legal solutions and provides market leading expertise in our sectors of focus. We are committed to making a difference for our clients, providing opportunities for our people and creating positive and lasting changes within our community. We have offices in Melbourne, Geelong and Canberra and over 200 staff members.

www.rk.com.au

 

 

 

About East Timor Hearts Fund East Timor Hearts Fund is a volunteer-powered medical NGO dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young Timorese, as well as heart-health research, education and prevention projects. www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au

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Medicos depart; now to work on funds and operations

An update from Timor-Leste from our CEO Stuart Thomson

Hello all,

Well that's a wrap. One hundred and twenty patients seen during five days of clinics – another monumental effort by our volunteer medical team, and our Timorese and Australian support and administrative team.

A very pleasing aspect of this visit was the presence of paediatric cardiologist Dr Ari Horton. The word was well and truly out about this and the mums and their young ones were lining up out the door.

The team also spent time sharing their knowledge with the newly-graduated doctors in Dili.

Through this visit we’ve identified a number of new patients who we can help with life-saving heart surgery or procedures in Australia. As the medical and admin teams now head home to their day jobs (and I hope some well-earned time off), the work will begin to arrange treatment, and to raise the necessary funds to provide it. If you’ve been as impressed as I have at what our volunteers have achieved over this Queen’s Birthday long weekend, please consider making a tax-time donation  via our secure online portal to support our work. Heartfelt thanks to the many who have already done so.

Stuart Thomson, CEO

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For the record - we're so grateful to our admin volunteers

An update from Timor-Leste,  from our honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley

Hello from Dili,

Today the team is looking forward to the fifth and final day of this clinical trip.

Yesterday we were at Guido Valadares National Hospital, where we worked in cooperation with the local paediatricians and cardiologist Dr Andre Monteiro. My colleague, paediatric cardiologist Dr Ari Horton, was again kept busy seeing children with complex congenital disease.

While I mostly talk about the medical aspects of our work in these missives, I'd like to highlight something a bit different – our volunteer clinic admin team.

Administrator Nick Mock and cardiac nurse Charis Brown have been running the "front of house" during this visit. This involves meeting patients and their families, securing the necessary personal details and creating a medical record. All of these tasks are crucial to having accurate, and retrievable, clinical information.

A great deal of work has gone into creating a purpose-built database tailored to meet the clinic’s needs.

We've now reached the point where the medicos simply enter the patient’s ID into an iPad, and all prior examinations, procedures and plans for future treatment are at our fingertips. The system works rather better than at any of the hospitals I've worked at over the years.

The doctors, and the patients, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Nicki, Charis, and our entire clinic administrative team.

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Run Melbourne - it's a family affair!

Our Run Melbourne team is making the most of a sparkling autumn long weekend morning in Melbourne town! Volunteer board director Nicki has the whole clan in training. Kids Gemma and Patrick and sister Anne have all signed up to do the event with Nicki on 30 July. Legends!

You can be a legend too! Pop over to our Run Melbourne web page for all the info and links you need to register, join our team and help raise $20,000 to mend a broken heart. With options including a scenic 5km walk along the Yarra, a 10k fun run and a half marathon, there's something to suit most.

Hope to see you there!

 

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'Delight and joy' for our volunteer medicos

An update from Timor-Leste,  from our honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley

The team is well into the June clinical trip.

After an early arrival last Friday morning, medical team members Dr Louise Creati, Dr Ari Horton and Dr Andre Monteiro (Timor’s first cardiologist), along with the support team of clinic administrator Nicki Mock and cardiac nurse Charis Brown, made the gruelling four-hour drive to Baucau, 120km east of Dili, for the first clinic.

It was a busy day, with around 50 patients seen, including many children. Ari's expertise as a paediatric cardiologist was extremely welcome and valuable. He has filled a longstanding gap in our range of services to the young people of Timor-Leste.

We had a late return to Dili, then back into it today at our partner, non-government health service Bairo Pite Clinic.  Again, it was a busy day. We saw about 30 patients, including a lot of kids with congenital disease who were in need of Ari’s input.

The day yielded the usual array of new patients, including three young adults who are outstanding candidates for surgical intervention in Australia.

As always, the whole team took delight, and indeed joy, in seeing patients who have been operated on in the recent past, all doing well.

It was a particular pleasure to see teenager Olga, who had extremely severe mitral stenosis, and was near death before her mitral balloon procedure at Royal Melbourne Hospital last July, now in robust health. Likewise, sports teacher and mother of three Bete, who had a complex “hole in the heart” operation at University Hospital Geelong last November, is also doing very well.

I am looking forward to another busy day of clinics tomorrow.

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Working long weekend for our volunteers

While Australians prepare for a relaxing Queen’s Birthday long weekend, East Timor Hearts Fund volunteers are gearing up for another busy round of heart screening clinics in Timor-Leste.

Our honorary medical adviser, Dr Noel Bayley, and volunteer medical team are about to head up to Timor-Leste, where they’ll spend the long weekend hard at work. Over four days our team will see hundreds of patients, identifying new candidates for treatment in Australia, and doing check-ups on patients who have previously had surgery to ensure their recovery is on track.

Our team will be doing clinics in Dili, at Guido Valadares National Hospital and with our partner, non-government health service Bairo Pite Clinic. They will also travel to Baucau, 120 kilometres east of the capital, to screen patients there.

As well as the medical team, our CEO Stuart Thomson, and voluntary board member and board committee chair Bill Appleby (who is the CEO of Jewish Care Victoria in his day job) are also Dili-bound. Stu and Bill will attend some of our clinics to meet the patients and support the volunteer clinic staff. They’ll also be meeting with some of our most important partners in Timor-Leste.

Our team will once again be achieving some amazing things in Timor-Leste, so stand by for some exciting updates from the field!

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Latest news!

Our latest enews is out now and you won't want to miss a word!

In this issue:

- Dr Noel Bayley's gearing up

- CEO Stuart Thomson's lacing up

- Board chair Ingrid Svendsen's tackling mountains

- New faces!

- Volunteer Liam Callaghan shares his unique gardening philosophy

- And best of all, Alisia's mum Rosalina, is now healthy again!

Please enjoy.

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New directors bring health and research boost

 

Four new directors have joined the board of East Timor Hearts Fund, following our Annual General Meeting, significantly expanding our skills base in key areas including public health and research.

 

The additions to the board, following a rigorous skills audit, recruitment and selection process, are part of East Timor Hearts Fund’s continued expansion into research, education and prevention projects that aim to tackle the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste.

 

“While we will continue to provide life-saving heart surgery in Australia for those who need it, our focus will increasingly be on earlier intervention and tackling some of the systemic issues behind the high rate of rheumatic and other heart disease in Timor-Leste,” board chair Ingrid Svendsen said.

 

“These new board appointments, combined with the strengths of longer-serving directors, give us a diverse and high-skill board that is well-equipped to oversee the implementation of our very ambitious strategic plan.”

 

Welcome to new directors:

Dr Brett Sutton, a public health expert who is Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, who has previously worked on public health projects in Timor-Leste and as a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières.

Julianne Scenna, who leads The Social Economy Group, a social impact consultancy, and has a background in international and community development and cross-sector partnerships.

Nick Oats, who manages a Victorian Government international program and has had significant involvement in projects in Timor-Leste.

Dr Vijaya Joshi, a research partnerships manager at Menzies School of Health Research, who has lived and worked in Timor-Leste and has considerable expertise working on rheumatic heart disease projects.

 

Read the media release.

Read profiles of our directors.

 

 

The board is currently filling one final position, and is advertising for a finance-qualified director, with applications closing on 12 June.

 

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Our patient 'angel'

Our patient 'angel'

 

Our volunteer patient support coordinator Ana Saldanha is inspired by the patients we help.

 

Adaptability a big asset 

 

Ana Saldanha has shown a remarkable capacity to adapt to any situation she has encountered since she started volunteering for the East Timor Hearts Fund in 2011.

 

Officially, Ana is patient support coordinator but this title belies the skills and personal strengths she applies to help cardiac patients throughout their treatment journey.

 

Unofficially, Ana may at times be a diplomat, den mother, cultural and political consultant, expert translator and interpreter, logistical tactician, patient carer and confidante, and 'team captain' of 15 volunteer patient supporters.

 

As patient support coordinator, she must be ready to step in if volunteers are unavailable due to their unexpected personal commitments. "I have to be both flexible and reliable," she says. "Otherwise things can go in the wrong direction."

 

She oversees the individual needs of patients, which range from a warm welcome from volunteers at Melbourne Airport, to Timorese home cooking, bedside visits in hospital, and homestays and recreational activities afterwards.

 

Gaining patients' trust requires a high level of empathy and, having immigrated to Australia in 1988, Ana knows how intimidating it can feel to cope with a strange language and culture. "Patients talk to me as their family. To me also, they are not just numbers or patients. I look at them as my own family."

 

These commitments are deftly juggled around her 'real' full-time job with the Australian Defence Force’s School of Languages. She also has a Timorese catering business, Sabores de Timor, and enjoys sharing spare time with her family

 

Ana has accompanied ETHF's medical teams to Timor-Leste to translate, interpret and facilitate at the cardiac assessment clinics in Dili and outlying districts. Once patients have been selected as cardiac treatment candidates, Ana briefs them about what to expect. This includes interpreting complex concepts in Tetum that may not have direct translations for technical medical terms.

 

She also translates cultural, political and social issues for both the medical teams and the board. In remote districts, for example, many people rely on fortune-tellers for healthcare advice. The parents' decision to have their critically ill child receive ETHF's treatment in Australia can spark strong opposition within their family – another hurdle to overcome, in addition to the gruelling travel to Dili. This helps explain why some patients can seem ambivalent about taking up a life-saving opportunity.

 

Ana's reward is the joy of helping young patients regain their health and their hopes of building tomorrow's Timor-Leste. "They can't wait to go back to school and achieve their dreams. They want to become architects, engineers, doctors, teachers, scientists. I tell them that with their determination, they will get better every day and be able to achieve that."

 

"I am really honoured to be part of such a wonderful organisation."

 

Source: 2015 East Timor Hearts Fund annual report

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Media release - Health and research boost for East Timor Heart Fund board

Media release                                     

Health and research boost for East Timor Heart Fund board

31 May 2017

The board of East Timor Hearts Fund has significantly expanded its skills base in key areas including public health and research following the election of four new directors.

 

The additions to the board, following a rigorous skills audit, recruitment and selection process, are part of East Timor Hearts Fund’s continued expansion into research, education and prevention projects that aim to tackle the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste.

 

“While we will continue to provide life-saving heart surgery in Australia for those who need it, our focus will increasingly be on earlier intervention and tackling some of the systemic issues behind the high rate of rheumatic and other heart disease in Timor-Leste,” board chair Ingrid Svendsen said.

 

“These new board appointments, combined with the strengths of longer-serving directors, give us a diverse and high-skill board that is well-equipped to oversee the implementation of our very ambitious strategic plan.”

 

East Timor Hearts Fund’s annual general meeting last night (30 May 2017) elected new directors:

Dr Brett Sutton, a public health expert who is Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, who has previously worked on public health projects in Timor-Leste and as a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières.

Julianne Scenna, who leads The Social Economy Group, a social impact consultancy, and has a background in international and community development and cross-sector partnerships.

Nick Oats, who manages a Victorian Government international program and has had significant involvement in projects in Timor-Leste.

Dr Vijaya Joshi, a research partnerships manager at Menzies School of Health Research, who has lived and worked in Timor-Leste and has considerable expertise working on rheumatic heart disease projects.

 

“Last year we funded and partnered to screen 1500 Timorese school children, as part of a landmark prevalence study, which identified some of the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease in the world,” Ingrid said.

 

“Rheumatic heart disease is preventable and it is treatable in its early stages. So we are now partnering to roll out a range of preventative and public health projects, including funding an outreach health worker to deliver a penicillin program targeting those with early symptoms.

 

“Our board is now better placed than ever to provide governance oversight to manage risk and effectively deliver these more complex projects and service delivery areas.”

 

Ingrid noted that the East Timor Hearts Fund board now had greater gender diversity than most Australian corporate boards and many in the not for profit sector.

 

“At a time when many corporate boards still have little or no female representation, it is very pleasing to now have a board that is 60 per cent women,” Ingrid said.

 

Other board members are Andrew Cochrane, Bill Appleby, Nicki Patten (company secretary), Sarah Danne and Sophie Clarkson.

 

Ingrid paid tribute to the outstanding service of retiring directors Philip Fitzpatrick and Ana Saldanha, a foundation board member who will remain with the organisation as volunteer patient support coordinator.

 

The board is currently filling one final position, and is advertising for a finance-qualified director, with applications closing on 12 June.

 

More information about the board is at www.easttimorheartsfund.org.au/about-us/the-team/

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Susan and Nina - our Run Melbourne heroes

Our Run Melbourne Heroes!

As we prepare for another great event on 30 July, we're re-living some of the highlights from previous years.

In 2014, businesswoman Susan heard that our patient Nina wanted to come to Australia to do Run Melbourne. So she paid her airfare!

Before her operation Nina had been too sick to walk a block, but as our guest of honour at the event she impressed the whole team with her run.

And as you can see, she didn't forget to show Mana Susan how happy she was to be part of the fun!

There's still eight weeks to go, so plenty of time to sign up and join in. All the info and links you need are on our website. 

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Join CEO Stu at Run Melbourne

This unseasonably warm weather has put a spring into the step of our CEO Stuart Thomson, who's in training for Run Melbourne. Here he is taking a brief selfie break, between pounding out the ks.

Stu would love to see you at the event and to have your help in our mission to raise $20,000 to mend a broken heart.

Please pop across to our website to get all the info you need about signing up for the run or walk, and joining our team.

 

 

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Happy birthday to our champion, Lin Jong!

Happy birthday to our favourite AFL player, our ambassador Lin Jong of Western Bulldogs. Number 46 turns 24 today! 

You can find out more about our champion Lin on our website.

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We're recruiting! Volunteer finance board role

We're recruiting!

If you're a qualified finance whiz with director experience and a passion for our mission of mending broken hearts and heart-health prevention, research and education projects, please apply for a voluntary role on our board.

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

Applications close 12 June. Apply here.

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Run Melbourne Dili!

While we'll be shivering in chilly Melbourne doing Run Melbourne, our friends in Dili will be sweating it out at this unofficial event, Run Melbourne Dili!

Join the easygoing team of friends of East Timor Hearts Fund for a relaxed foreshore run, starting at Pertamina Wharf to Beachside, and hopefully finishing with coffee.

We're raising $20,000 to give a patient life-saving heart surgery in Australia.

Create your fundraising profile and join our team here

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Rosalina on the mend

We have some great news to share – our patient Rosalina is making an excellent recovery at Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney, following her mitral balloon procedure at Eastern Heart Clinic yesterday.

The high-tech procedure involves inserting a tiny balloon via a catheter into the faulty heart valve to expand it.

Dr Simon Eggleton, from our volunteer medical team, performed an ultrasound this morning to check Rosalina’s progress and has confirmed that she is doing well.

Rosalina is likely to be out of hospital today, and will be able to return home to her family, including baby Alisia, next week.

A huge thanks to Dr Simon, and Professor Roger Allan, who performed the procedure, and also our partners Eastern Heart Clinic and Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

There are many more patients like Rosalina who need our help, so if you would like to make a pre-end of financial year donation you can do so here.

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Rosalina all smiles ahead of surgery

Our latest patient Rosalina, 22, is in great spirits ahead of her mitral balloon procedure this week at Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney.

Our CEO Stuart Thomson popped in today to visit Rosalina, and health support worker Simoa, from Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili.

This life-saving procedure cannot come soon enough for Rosalina, whose debilitating symptoms have left her too weak to play with her five month old daughter Alisia, and to work and study.

“I can’t wait to be healthy. I want to see my baby girl grow up and be there for her,” Rosalina told us.

More news soon!

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400,000 reasons to be grateful to our volunteers

Did you know - the value of work contributed by our medical and medical administration volunteers alone is an estimated $400,000 each year? But that’s just a fraction of the unpaid contribution that keeps our organisation going, as we also have volunteer accountants, administrative staff, committee and board members, patient support workers, marketing professionals and more. It’s how we deliver exceptional value for donor dollars, and exceptional service for the community we serve.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we have 400,000 reasons to be grateful.

 

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Running for my brother

As Team Mending Broken Hearts gears up for another fantastic Run Melbourne event on Sunday 30 July, we're celebrating some of our Run Melbourne heroes.

This is our volunteer Chico, who ran the event in honour of his brother, who tragically passed away from heart disease aged only 46, leaving behind young children. Chico says his family could not afford to fly his brother overseas for treatment, and the right care was not available in Timor-Leste.

For Chico, volunteering, and doing the fun run, is a "fitting way to honour the memory of my brother and help to make sure that other Timorese people can lead a healthy and happy life with their families".

Everyone has a different reason for doing the run or walk, but we can all contribute to the goal of raising $20,000 to give a young patient life-saving heart surgery in Australia.

All the information and links you need to sign up and join our team are here.

Look forward to seeing you there!

 

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Our CEO's lesson for Melbourne Uni students

 

It was a lecture worth turning up to for University of Melbourne Masters in International Development students this morning, with our CEO Stuart Thomson doing a guest spot. With his background with agencies such as Oxfam and World Vision, as well as his work with East Timor Hearts Fund, we're sure Stuart gave the students some great insights.

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'I want to see my baby girl grow up'

We’re excited! Our next patient Rosalina, 22, arrives in Australia tomorrow. The young mum has mitral stenosis, a narrowing of the heart valve caused by the rheumatic fever she contracted as a child.

She’ll be having a high-tech mitral balloon procedure at Eastern Heart Clinic in Sydney.

Debilitating symptoms have left 22-year-old Rosalina too weak to play with baby Alisia, and unable to study and work.

“I can’t wait to be healthy. I want to see my baby girl grow up and be there for her,” Rosalina told us.

Look out for more updates soon!

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Our Ambassador, Western Bulldogs' Lin Jong, speaks to Fox Sports AFL 360

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Media release - Western Bulldogs champion Lin Jong joins our team

Western Bulldogs champion Lin Jong joins our team

26 April 2017

 

Australia’s only Timorese-Australian AFL player, the Western Bulldogs’ Lin Jong, has joined East Timor Hearts Fund as its first ambassador, chief executive officer Stuart Thomson today announced.

 

“We could not be more thrilled to have a champion like Lin come on board with our team,” Mr Thomson said.

 

“With his Timorese family background, Lin’s compassion for our patients and enthusiasm for our cause is genuine and very heartening for all of us at East Timor Hearts Fund.

 

“His determination, courage, resilience and can-do attitude as a player really embody what we are about. It’s very exciting to have Lin’s support in our mission to mend more broken hearts.”

 

Lin has been a dedicated supporter of East Timor Hearts Fund, meeting patients and attending events, including the Run Melbourne fun run.

 

He said his decision to become an ambassador was influenced by his family history – his father Vitor was born in Timor-Leste, and fled the country to escape civil war aged only 18.

 

Lin said he understood how much things had improved in Timor-Leste since his father left, but also knew that many people, including young people with heart disease, were not able to get the specialist medical help they needed.

“I’ve met patients who have come to Australia for surgery, and seen how life-changing it’s been,” Lin said.

 

“I’ll never forget having a kick with 13-year-old Paulo only weeks after his surgery and meeting 15-year-old Melinda, who had previously been too sick to go to school, when she came back to Melbourne to do a fun run.

 

“I’m happy and proud to use my profile as an athlete to help get the word out about the amazing work of East Timor Hearts Fund.”

 

Mr Thomson said the organisation also looked forward to supporting Lin in achieving his goal of learning more about Timorese culture, and hoped to host him on a visit to Timor-Leste this year.

 

Download the media release

View Lin Jong's video message

 

 

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Introducing our new ambassador, Western Bulldogs champion Lin Jong

I'm excited to share the news that Australia’s only Timorese-Australian AFL player, the Western Bulldogs’ Lin Jong, has joined East Timor Hearts Fund as our first ambassador.

We could not be more thrilled to have a champion like Lin come on board with our team. With his Timorese family background, Lin’s compassion for our patients and enthusiasm for our cause is genuine and very heartening for all of us at East Timor Hearts Fund.

His determination, courage, resilience and can-do attitude as a player really embody what we are about. It’s very exciting to have Lin’s support in our mission to mend more broken hearts.

You can view Lin’s video message below and read his statement of support.

Please keep an eye out for further news about our new champion.

Stuart Thomson, CEO

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Repaying a 'debt of honour'

Today, on ANZAC Day, we’re thinking about the “debt of honour” Australians owe to our friends and neighbours in Timor-Leste.

Although many Australians do know it, the bond between Australia and Timor-Leste goes back to WWII, when brave “criados” (lay soldiers) and villagers supported Australian troops who were fighting guerrilla warfare to impede the advance of the Japanese army.

In 1942, when the mission was deemed too dangerous, Australia withdrew. Japanese troops massacred more than 40,000 civilians (up to 70,000, or one in ten of the population, by some estimates). It is said that no other nation suffered such horrific civilian losses supporting Australians in war.

Our government dropped leaflets telling the Timorese people “Os vossos amigos noa vos esquecem” (“Your friends do not forget you”).  Today Australian veterans and service men and women, including the peacekeepers who supported the transition to independence in 1999-2000, still speak of the “debt of honour” owed to the people of Timor-Leste.

Through our work providing life-saving surgery, and prevention, education and research programs, East Timor Hearts Fund is proud to play a role in repaying that debt.

Lest We Forget.

 

Photo via Dare Memorial

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'Your friends do not forget you' - repaying a debt of honour

On ANZAC Day eve, we’re thinking about the “debt of honour” Australians owe to our friends and neighbours in Timor-Leste.

Although many Australians do know it, the bond between Australia and Timor-Leste goes back to WWII, when brave “criados” (lay soldiers) and villagers supported Australian troops who were fighting guerrilla warfare to impede the advance of the Japanese army.

In 1942, when the mission was deemed too dangerous, Australia withdrew. Japanese troops massacred more than 40,000 civilians (up to 70,000, or one in ten of the population, by some estimates). It is said that no other nation suffered such horrific civilian losses supporting Australians in war. 

Our government dropped leaflets telling the Timorese people “Os vossos amigos noa vos esquecem” (“Your friends do not forget you”). Today Australian veterans and service men and women still speak of the “debt of honour” owed to the people of Timor-Leste. This is one of the reasons Australia led the international peacekeeping force that supported the transition to independence in 1999-2000, under the command of our East Timor Hearts Fund patron General Peter Cosgrove. 

Through our work providing life-saving surgery, and prevention, education and research programs, East Timor Hearts Fund is proud to play a role in repaying that debt.

Lest We Forget.

Photo via Dare Memorial.

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Join our team! Early bird special ends soon

We're running to mend broken hearts - join us!

Run Melbourne earlybird prices close on 20 April.

Sign up for the event here then check out our website for all the details and links you need to set up a fundraising profile and join our team.

 

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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

***An update from Dr Noel in Dili*****

Hi from Dili,

Today the team had an interesting trip to Suai, around 140 kilometres southwest of the capital.

On the flight there we had beautiful weather. On the way back, there was lowish cloud, and our plane threaded through the fairly small gap between the clouds and the hilltops.

Our clinics were again very busy indeed. We saw quite a range of patients, in age and disease. These included quite a few small children with inoperable cyanotic congenital heart disease, so called "blue babies". In these cases we can offer only an accurate diagnosis and support.

But we also saw a number of children and young adults who we can offer a return to health and a positive future. There's always the mix.

It was a day very well spent.

After three extremely busy days, we’re all a little worn, and we still have a couple more to go.

The team works like clockwork. There’s a great sense of fellowship and purpose.

– Dr Noel Bayley, honorary medical adviser

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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

Late last year, hundreds of people supported our Mend Alia's Broken heart crowdfunding campaign. We're thrilled to let you know that Alia, 15, had her surgery two days before Christmas, and has made an excellent recovery. Alia has just returned to Timor-Leste, to a whole new life.

For Alia and her family, this is the best festive season gift imaginable. All thanks to the big-hearted supporters who contributed so generously to our crowdfunding campaign, and the expertise and care of cardiac surgeon Professor Yves d'Udekem and all at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The successful double valve repair, a complex four-hour open heart procedure, means that for the first time in years, Alia can breathe easily, walk and move freely, eat well and enjoy life.

Alia’s mum Octavia cannot 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, and everyone involved for helping save my daughter's life. 

“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.”

Obrigada (thank you) for helping us to Mend Alia’s Broken Heart.

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