Rotary Sri Lanka to assist in free heart surgery for over 300 children

Wednesday, 14 August 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Rotary International District 3220 (Sri Lanka and Maldives) has embarked on a humanitarian mission to assist children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) to gain access to critical open-heart surgery without compromising on the quality of medical care through a project tilted ‘Save A Little Heart’.

The Rotary Club of Colombo West which initiated the ‘Save A Little Heart” Project in 2017 has already organised over 70 such surgeries on children and is committed towards assisting underprivileged children with congenital heart defects undergo lifesaving treatment. 

Congenital heart defects are very common and usually detected at birth, starting with the regular hole in the heart to Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) which is a combination of four congenital abnormalities and can have a significant impact on the health of the child. TOF may also be associated with Down syndrome.

In Sri Lanka around 2,000-2,500 children are born every year with congenital heart defects, with around 1,400-1,600 of them needing open heart surgery. With timely and proper treatment using modern diagnostic, interventional and surgical techniques over 90% of these congenital heart defects can be effectively treated, allowing children to reach adulthood without further complications. 

The only stumbling block faced by many Sri Lankan families faced with this issue is the lack of funds, for a timely operation, with the cost of the surgeries varying between Rs. 550,000 to Rs. 1.2 million depending on the severity of the problem.

It is to fill this much need void, that the Rotary District Sri Lanka has stepped in to support and enable children faced with such a situation to have the surgeries they need performed locally, or in the case of children with the more complicated Tetralogy of Fallot, to be sent to India for the surgical procedure. 

In addition to the cost of the operation, Rotary Sri Lanka will also assist in sponsoring the expenses towards the costs of travel, hospitalisation, surgery and accommodation for the child plus one parent for a stay of 15-21 days in India. 

The children to benefit from these surgeries are chosen from a ‘waiting list’ from the Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) after due endorsement from the consultant medical team at the hospital. So far, 72 such children have benefited through Rotary Sri Lanka during the last year. The target for the Rotary year 2019-2020 is to assist around 300 beneficiaries with the required operations. 

Disease prevention and treatment is one of the key focus areas of Rotary International and Rotary in Sri Lanka has had a long history of working closely with the health sector for the benefit of the community. Key projects spearheaded by Rotary Sri Lanka has ranged from the Polio Plus campaign (which is part of Rotary’s global initiative), the setting up of Association for Prevention of Tuberculosis (CNAPT) and the cancer society. 

Other value-driven projects constitute of setting up of the Sri Lanka Anti-Narcotics Association (SLANA), the Mahamodera Maternity Hospital, the first Human Heart Valve Tissue Bank in Sri Lanka at LRH, and the Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Project. 

“This initiative is another such venture in our commitment and vision of supporting and facilitating the country’s healthcare needs towards a healthier and disease-free nation,” stated District Governor for Sri Lanka Sebastian Karunakaran. 

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and regions who carry out work to improve lives at both the local and international levels.