ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

Generous hearts needed to save little hearts

One in 400 children in Sri Lanka is born with a potentially deadly heart defect. Most of these diseases can be cured completely with timely surgery. However, the government cannot afford the cost of over 2,000 heart operations needed by children every year and with the existing facilities only around 600 operations are performed annually, while others languish on a growing waiting list.

Most of these children will not survive and parents aware of this are desperate for help. To help ease the pain and suffering of these children and their families, the Children's Heart Project (CHP) of Sri Lanka with the assistance of the President's Fund and Nawaloka Hospitals aims to save children with congenital defects by performing such heart operations.

"These operations are performed at Nawaloka Hospitals by paediatric surgeons, Dr. A. G. Jeyakrishnan, Dr. Y. K. M. Lahie and Dr. Pradeep Chand," Manager of the Cardiac Unit, P. Vithanage told The Sunday Times.

"We are targeting not the middle class or the lower middle class section of society, but rather the poorest of the poor who are lacking in facilities and financial capabilities from the remotest of villages in the country. Thus the beneficiaries are selectively chosen," a spokesperson for Children's Heart Project said.

With modern diagnostic or surgical techniques, over 75 percent of these congenital heart defects can be effectively treated, allowing the child to lead a normal life.

Assistance is restricted to those who can be cured with a single operation and where financial need has been documented and assistance from the President's Fund obtained. These children have to be evaluated and referred by the cardiologist at the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital in Colombo.

So far this programme funded by generous public contributions has saved the lives of about 25 children by providing assistance for surgery.

"We can further the aims of the project only with the help of the public," the spokesperson said, adding "Anyone who is willing to make a donation of Rs 50,000, individually or collectively, is encouraged to get in touch." For queries on how and where to donate, please call 2662195, 5579915.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.