By Charles Duncan
A total of eight children from Haiti with severe heart defects traveled to Health City Cayman Islands this year for surgery.
The most recent group of four children, along with one parent each, spent two weeks in Cayman for the surgery and recovery, and went home to Haiti just before Christmas.
The Haitian Cardiac Alliance, a nonprofit based in the United States, identified the children in Haiti and will help with follow-up care at a network of clinics they run in that country.
Dr. Sripadh Upadhya, a Health City surgeon who led the team on the operations, said, “When the children arrived, they were barely able to walk or play. They were very sick.
“Following their surgeries, they were able to play and jump around and were even lucky enough to be visited by Santa,” he said.
Dr. Upadhya and other doctors at Health City donated their time to perform the surgeries.
Health City, working with nonprofits in Cayman and the United States, will host another 13 children from Haiti next year for surgeries.
Three of the children in the most recent group had congenital heart defects; essentially, they had holes in their hearts between the two main pumping chambers. Ventricular septal defect, as it is known, is a relatively common birth defect. According to the Mayo Clinic, many small holes will health on their own, but larger holes require surgery.
A hole in the heart means that oxygen-rich blood gets re-circulated to the lungs instead of going out to the body, which means the heart has to work harder to get oxygen around the body.
The fourth patient, a 6-year-old girl, was in critical condition with what the hospital called “severe pulmonary issues.”
The four operations were done without having to open the chest. Dr. Upadhya explained that his team was able to perform the operations through a small entry point in the groin.
Shomari Scott, spokesman for the hospital, said all four surgeries were successful.
Have a Heart Cayman helped raise money for the operations and Digicel donated the use of the company’s jet to bring the children to Cayman and then back to Haiti.