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10 Children Benefit From Life-Saving Heart Surgeries

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (2nd right), engages with six-year-old Alex Dormer during a visit to the Bustamante Hospital for Children's paediatric cardiac centre on Wednesday (January 8). The Minister spent time with young patients undergoing corrective surgery for various cardiac complications. Looking on are Alex's parents, Diana Johnson (left) and Warren Dormer (2nd left) and Intensivist with Chains of Hope, Dr. Intikhab Zafurallah.


Ten children suffering from various cardiac complications are undergoing corrective surgeries at the Bustamante Hospital for Children this week, during Chain of Hope’s medical mission to the island.

The 18-member team from the United Kingdom (UK)-based charity has been performing the life-saving procedures at the hospital in St. Andrew since Monday (January 6).

Included are two specialist cardiac surgeons, one anaesthetist, three intensivists, one perfusionist, seven Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses, one biomedical engineer and three administrative staff from the UK, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Canada and the United States. They will be at the hospital until Friday (January 10).

The surgeries, which are valued at between £50,000 and £100,000, are being provided free of cost.

Speaking with JIS News at the Bustamante Hospital on Wednesday (January 8), Health & Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that Chain of Hope is an important partner in the functioning of the state-of-the-art cardiac operating theatre, which includes a catheterisation laboratory.

He noted that some 243 lives have been saved through procedures performed at the facility since its opening in 2017.

“It justifies the investment in terms of lives saved and expertise on the island not only of locals, but regionally. We continue to value our partners, who are involved,” he added.

Chief Executive Officer, Chain of Hope, Emma Scanlan, said that the team not only performs surgeries but also provides training to develop local skills.

“We bring in expertise from outside. When we bring in the team, we bring in supplementary intensive care doctors and nurses trained in cardiac procedures to help work with your excellent (local staff) and also transfer more knowledge in complex cases. It is important that we work with your local team; that is our philosophy,” she said.

Paediatric Cardiologist at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Dr. Sharone Forrester, told JIS News the annual surgical mission is very valuable to patients and doctors alike.

“This partnership is beneficial to our patients because we do have quite a few patients who are waiting for surgeries. Whenever we have these mission teams that come here, we can get to do more cases over a shorter period of time and help with the backlog of patients waiting for surgery,” she noted.

The medical mission is made possible through the Ministry of Health & Wellness and involves partnership with Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), National Health Fund (NHF), Gift of Life Charity, Digicel Foundation and Sagicor Foundation.

Approximately 400 children are born each year in Jamaica with congenital heart disease, half of whom will need some form of corrective procedure, either by open heart surgery or catheter interventions.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is also still prevalent and contributes to the pool of patients requiring cardiac intervention.

SOURCE: JIS

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