20 children to receive lifesaving surgery

Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Ashish Katewa, Dr Maryanne Kora'ai and Dr Krupali Tappoo at the CWM Hospital in Suva yesterday. Picture: VILIMAINA NAQELEVUKI

TWENTY children will this week receive lifesaving surgery thanks to an initiative by the Sai Prema Foundation, Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals India and Ministry of Health, Fiji.

This was highlighted by Dr Krupali Rathod Tappoo, director of the Sri Sathya Sanjeevani Medical Center in Nasese, Suva yesterday.

“From Wednesday last week, 76 children have been screened so far and 20 children have been identified for free heart surgeries,” she said.

She said these were surgeries for congenital heart disease — a heart defect that some children were born with.

“Some of these children have symptoms and some don’t have the symptoms but may have complications later on.”

Dr Tappoo said the medical team included surgeons and professionals from Fiji, India, USA, Australia and Oman led by Dr Ashish Katewa from the Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, India, along with Dr Shaun Shetty from the US. Dr Katewa said the youngest patient was a three-month-old and the oldest was a 10-year-old.

“Some of them are Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) — which are blue babies — these children are severely limited in terms of their physical activity because the body is not able to keep up with their oxygen demand,” he said.

He said once their hearts were fixed, they would be able to live normal lives.

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