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Defects can be different. BLOG by Natalia Yemchenko, SCM’s Director of Public Relations and Communications


Heart defects are different. There are those that need to be operated just immediately. And some operations can be postponed even for several years. There are those defects that can be operated with the thoracic endovascular method. And there are those that can be operated only abdominally. There are nearly 4,5 thousand such heart defects appearing in Ukraine annually. There is a national program, but only for abdominal operations. There is no such a program for the endovascular operations: each occluder (the heart prosthesis) is about 100,000 UAH. It's big money, really. And it’s hard to afford such an operation, that's also true. But the difference between abdominal operation and an operation with occluder is huge.

An abdominal operation presupposes an incision, and a scar, and a deep anesthesia, and a hard recovery. With some defects, only such an operation is possible. But the lion's share can and should be operated endovascularly because such an operation lasts 30 minutes; and because there is no scar on the breast (the endoprosthesis is inserted through a tiny incision on the thigh). This is an operation that needs to be done 1 time and a child gets a new healthy heart, forgetting about the operation the next day, because there is no recovery period as such.

4-year-old Karina was born with a heart defect of patent ductus arteriosus. Parents began to carry the cheerful child in their arms - the girl was not strong enough to walk.

4,5 thousand children with heart defects are born in Ukraine every year. Only half of them get medical help on time. All the rest are tens thousands of people. They wait for state-funded surgical treatment, lose time or sell everything they can to be operated abroad. Only in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, 600-700 babies are born with heart defects annually. According to cardiac surgeons, 4.5 thousands of children need occluders.

Now everything is all right with Karina, thank God.

A few weeks ago her occluder was successfully installed. The first ultrasound showed that the girl's heart beats smoothly. Now she is absolutely healthy.

The occluders for Karina and another 20 children were bought by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. His project "Healthy Heart" was launched in February 2017. The youngest patient was a six-month-old baby from Donetsk region. The Humanitarian Centre will help another dozen children from low-income families in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv regions, as it helped Karina. Doctors of the Heart Institute of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, of the Amosov National Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery and the Scientific-Practical Medical Centre of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, with which we work, are real wizards. All the operations, the occluders for which were provided by the Foundation, were successful.

Karina's parents say that her heart defect was diagnosed late and that they were afraid of the abdominal operation and therefore dawdled on the decision. Later they learned about the occluder technology, but were sure they would not find the money for the operation.

The cardiac surgeons we work with actually say that there are a lot of neglected heart defects. Among the reasons are late diagnosis, reluctance to be treated, fear of parents to do surgery on the child. Thus, some of them are too late with seeking medical assistance.

Cardiosurgery is a high-tech and expensive branch of medicine. Endovascular surgery is its peak. It is the most up-to-date and low-traumatic method of treatment. There is a sore lack of state-funding. So, in half the cases, children with congenital heart disorder are helped by charitable organizations.

The main thing for parents is not to be afraid to contact experienced cardio surgeons and to do it on time. They have to sympathize with their own children, to ring the alarm. They have to come to cardiac centres, to find philanthropists to give their children new hearts. In other words, the parents have to act. Today the experience of Rinat Akhmetov program "Healthy Heart" is only stories of success. Defects can be different. But they are not to be afraid of.


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