Over the past two days, children have travelled from far and wide from around Timor-Leste to Dili’s Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares to be assessed by our volunteer medical team ahead of next week’s Operation GoodHearts.
Paediatric Cardiology Fellow Dr. Ari Horton reflected after the first day of clinical assessments.
“I was really surprised because we’ve already found so many patients that would really benefit from the surgery…it’s the beginning of a process to try and prove that collaborative surgical missions would be possible in East Timor and strengthen Timor's ability to provide a future of diagnostic care for Timorese children. One day regular missions, with a focus on sustainability and capacity building for local services, ensure that Timorese kids have access to the same care that children in Australia receive everyday,” said Dr Horton.
Operation GoodHearts involves a volunteer medical team working alongside staff at Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares, where they aim to perform high-tech keyhole surgery on up to 15 children over five days.
Learn more about Operation GoodHearts by reading our latest media release.
Australian volunteers arrive for major Timor cardiac surgery mission
21 February 2018
A team of Australian cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and health workers will arrive in Timor-Leste later this month as part of a major heart surgery mission.
The volunteer team will work alongside local staff at Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares for five days between 26 February and 2 March, aiming to perform high-tech keyhole surgery on up to 15 children.
The CEO of Australian NGO East Timor Hearts Fund, Stuart Thomson, said the surgical mission was a first for the organisation, and would allow more patients to receive treatment.
“Until now we have been bringing patients to Australia for surgery one by one, which is expensive and time consuming,” Mr Thomson said.
“This surgical mission lets us operate on more patients in five days than we would usually treat in a year.”
Mr Thomson said East Timor Hearts Fund would continue to bring patients to Australia but hoped to increasingly offer surgery in Timor-Leste.
“We work to support the health system in Timor-Leste and eventually we would be overjoyed to see patients with complex heart conditions able to receive treatment by local surgeons in local hospitals,” Mr Thomson said.
Mr Thomson said the support for Operation GoodHearts was overwhelming in Australia, with top medicos volunteering their services, the public donating more than $10,000 in just five days to buy medical equipment, and Northern Oil & Gas Australia becoming a major partner.
Northern Oil & Gas Australia Managing Director Angus Karoll said his company was delighted to support the surgical mission.
“Our aim is to make a positive social contribution to the Timorese community, and being involved in a project like Operation GoodHearts is a great way to do this,” Mr Karoll said.
Surgical mission leader Professor Andrew Cochrane said the young patients urgently needed surgery, and were suffering from severe symptoms, including breathlessness and poor growth.
“They will recover quickly and feel a lot better almost straight away. They will have the chance to go on to live normal, healthy lives,” Professor Cochrane said.
This is the first heart surgery mission in Timor-Leste for six years, so there is a large backlog of patients needing assistance.
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