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Life-saving surgery for 23 children in Guyana

by: - August 2, 2018
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GEORGETOWN (DPI) – The International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF) has performed another 23 surgeries on infants and adults as part of its latest visit to Guyana.

The ICHF, locally referred to as the Baby Heart Foundation (BHF), has to date performed 100 procedures during eleven trips over the past three years.

During the month of July, a team of cardiac specialists both from the ICHF and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) performed life-saving heart surgeries on both babies and adults over a period of two weeks.

This is ICHF’s first trip in Guyana for 2018 and speaking with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICHF, Dr Rodrigo Soto detailed the work done in Guyana during this first trip.

Soto, who is also a paediatric cardiac surgeon said, “we were able to perform 12 surgeries; of those 12 surgeries, eight or you can say over fifty per cent were complex cases that we were able to deal with. Also, we did another eleven procedures with the cath lab [Catheterisation Laboratory] so in total it was 23 patients in these two weeks having been served by GPHC and Baby Heart”.

The mission of ICHF is to bring the skills, technology and knowledge to cure and care for children with congenital heart disease in developing nations. That aspect is in the pipeline as ICHF and the GPHC continue to engage the Ministry of Public Health in expanding the service and equipping Guyanese to perform the service independently.

According to Soto, approximately 1 in every 100 children will be born with a heart defect that is life-threatening and would require immediate surgical interventions.

When asked about the complex cases seen by doctors, he added that, “we have a large number of patients with what we call single ventricle, normally the heart has two ventricles, the right and the left working together and some patients are born with only one of them and we would have to do some palliative procedures in order for this patient to be able to survive, become adults and actually be useful to society”.

In most cases, children with single ventricle heart defects require intensive medical intervention soon after birth. Symptoms vary depending on the severity and type of defect. They include blue or purple tint to lips, skin and nails (cyanosis), difficulty breathing, difficulty feeding, lethargy (sleepy or unresponsive).

Soto indicated that on this trip there were six such cases, however, there is now a difference after surgery. They remain under medical supervision until clearance is given by doctors for them to be discharged.

The ICHF is expected to return from October 6 to 20, 2018. Parents with babies with congenital heart diseases and suspected heart complications are encouraged to visit the GPHC’s Echocardiogram laboratory for screening and to be placed on a waiting list for ICHF’s next trip.