Free Heart Surgeries for the Children of Fiji
This Gift of Life heart surgeries is a project of Sai Prema Foundation Fiji (an NGO and Charitable Foundation formed to serve the underprivilged and needy people of Fiji through Medicare, Educare & Sociocare initiatives).
The Sai Prema Foundation Fiji undertook this initiative in association with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services in collaboration with an international team of surgeons, doctors and medical professionals from India, Australia, USA & Oman representing the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals in India.
The Sai Prema Foundation Fiji facilitated a 10-member team from the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital in Raipur (a Paediatric Cardiac Super Speciality Hospital) in conjunction with Ministry of Health and Medical Services Fiji from the 8th to 18th August 2016. The aim was to perform free paediatric congenital cardiac surgeries.
The team arrived on the 5th of August and conducted screenings on the 6th and 7th of August.
A total of 74 children were screened.
25 paediatric cardiac surgeries, worth in excess of FJD$1.3 million, were performed totally free of cost.
The 10 member team included Dr. Ashish Katewa – Paediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Ranganathan – Paediatric Anesthetist and Intensivist from Royal Muscat Hospital, Dr. Sreemayi Chodagam – Anaesthetic Registrar, Miss Kym Stuart – Physician Assistant and Scrub Nurse from Brisbane Australia, Miss Gnana Sundari – Scrub Nurse, Mr. Rajveer Singh – ICU Nurse, Mr. Nibu Varkey – ICU Nurse, Mr. Sanjay Verma – Physician Assistant and Mr Mohammad Farooq – Perfusionist. Dr. Krupali Tappoo, an Australian qualified General Practitioner at Mitchell’s Clinic in Suva as well the Medical Coordinator of Sai Prema Foundation Fiji planned, coordinated, managed and executed the visit, working very closely with the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital Raipur and the Paediatric team at CWM Hospital headed by Dr. Ilisapeci Vereti.
There have been a few teams coming to Fiji over the past 20 years to perform Paediatric Cardiac surgeries, however this team was the first team ever to involve the local doctors and nurses during the whole process. Their plan is not only to come to Fiji and perform free Paediatric Cardiac surgeries, but to help Fiji establish its first Paediatric Cardiothoracic Unit. The team will come on an annual basis and will host local doctors/nurses and provide them with free training, accommodation and meals at their Paediatric Cardiac hospital in Raipur India until a local Paediatric Cardiac unit is established. This will be under the auspicies of the “Medical Scholarship” initiative offered by Sai Prema Foundation Fiji.
In 2018, 26 children underwent open heart surgeries, catheterization lab procedures and other interventions, saving their families in excess of FJD $2.5 million.
In 2019 children underwent open heart surgeries, catheterization lab procedures and other interventions in 2019 , saving their families in excess of FJD $1.7 million.
Without intervention and treatment, these children may not have survived.
The Acting Prime Minister Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum felicitated the 10-member team at the Official Launch of the Sai Prema Foundation Fiji and acknowledged them for their hard work. He said “the 25 children you have performed the procedures on, obviously you have given them a new lease of life and you have given those families a renewed sense of hope and that is very very important for us. That is very much appreciated; Thank you for your services, your dedication, your compassion and your passion for not only undertaking the surgeries but also offering to provide the services to our Doctors and to Fiji; I would like to acknowledge the Sai Prema Foundation for undertaking this initiative”.
The Sanjeevani Hospital bore the cost of airfares and all consumables for the team. The Sai Prema foundation Fiji provided accommodation, meals and hosted the team while they were in Fiji. The Sai Prema Foundation Fiji also gave out a ‘Gift of Life’ pack to every child that was operated on. The pack included a photo of the child with the doctors, toys, books, stationaries, and a ‘Gift of Life’ Certificate.
The Assistant Minister of Health, Hon. Veena Bhatnagar, was very closely involved in the planning and execution of the project and her support was highly appreciated. The Minister of Sai Prema Foundation Fiji – September 2017 24 Health Hon. Jone Usamate met with team and congratulated them for their assistance to the children of Fiji and assured continued support.
The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar hosted the team for a ‘thank you’ dinner at the Fiji museum at the conclusion of the surgeries and the support of her Ministry was very much appreciated as well.
The Sai Prema Foundation Fiji will continue with these visits annually in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital in Raipur India.