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articles articles - Fresh bid to try to fly Irish funded International surgical team to Ukraine to carry out vital children's heart operations



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Fresh bid to try to fly Irish funded International surgical team to Ukraine to carry out vital children's heart operations
 
   

 FRESH BID TO TRY TO FLY IRISH FUNDED INTERNATIONAL SURGICAL TEAM TO UKRAINE TO CARRY OUT VITAL CHILDREN'S HEART OPERATIONS

 

Despite the still violent situation in Ukraine, an Irish funded team of cardiac surgeons is preparing to fly to the east of the country early next week - Monday May 19th - to carry out urgently needed operations on 60 children suffering from genetic heart defects.

 

The team of internationally renowned specialists - from the US, Canada and Nicaragua - is planning to run the gauntlet of daily shootings and killings in the secessionist pro Russian border region to undertake the "mercy mission" organised by Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International aid agency.

 

The operations - twice postponed because of the high level violence in eastern Ukraine - may now go ahead if the volunteer multi-national team of surgeons, can succeed in flying into to the eastern city of Kharkiv.

 

The news has been greeted with delight by the parents and families of the children. "They were crying for joy when they heard the team was preparing to fly in to carry out the operations," said Dr. Igor Polivenok, of Kharkiv Hospital, "There are no words to express our joy. This will give these children a real chance to live".

 

The team will be led by the renowned US surgeon, Dr. William Novick, Founder and Medical Director of the International Children's Heart Foundation (ICHF). Dr. Novick, a board member of Chernobyl Children International pioneered the "mercy missions" to Ukraine where 6,000 babies are born with heart defects each year. Since 2004 more than €3 million has been raised in Ireland to fund the programme.

 

According to Dr. Novick the situation in Kharkiv still remains extremely volatile but he says the team feels it has to make one more attempt to try to give the children the operations they so desperately need to stay alive.

 

Of the 6,000 babies born with heart defects in Ukraine each year, 50 per cent are not operated on because of lack of facilities and qualified medical teams in Ukraine. Without cardiac surgery the children, who need complex open heart operations, have little hope of living beyond 5 years.

 

Announcing details of the latest bid to re-commence the cardiac programme, Dr. Novick said "We are having intense negotiations to try to get our team safely in and out of Kharkiv. The situation there shows little sign of getting any better in the short term and we want all sides in this ongoing crisis to realise how important it is for these children to have their operations".

 

Dr. Novick, Adi Roche, CEO, Chernobyl Children International and Dr. Igor Polivenok, Head of the Cardiac Unit at Kharkiv Hospital, say they are optimistic that the operations will go ahead starting  this weekend.

 

Adi Roche, said "We know the situation throughout eastern Ukraine is still extremely dangerous but we feel that we cannot turn our backs on the children who so desperately need these operations. We discussed the possibility of moving them to either the Ukrainian capital Kiev or to Minsk in Belarus to have their surgery but logistically this proved to have many difficulties".

 

"The children all live in the Kharkiv region; their parents need to be with them during the period before and after their operations; the best facilities for the kind of minimally invasive surgery they require are in the Cardiac Hospital in Kharkiv and it also has a strong medical team who have been training under the direction of Dr Novick for several years".

 

Reacting to the announcement Dr. Igor Polivenok, of Kharkiv Hospital, said "There are no words to express the joy that is in my heart today at the news; that the surgeons will come to my hospital to save our children's lives.  Just no words at all.  I have just told the parents and everyone here is crying. They are crying for joy. They cry because their children are their treasures and now they have hope that they will live." 

 

"It is a kind of window of freedom for us to know that there are people in the world who see beyond the fighting here, who see beyond these borders. It is a message for our politicians to see the people they are hurting and to work for peace and let us save our children!" 

 

"This team coming are our inspiration that there is hope in our future; our future with our European neighbours living together in peace and harmony and the restoration of these life-saving missions gives us hope for life".

 

Dr. Novick's pioneering surgery, featured in the 2003 Academy Award winning documentary "Chernobyl Heart". For the past 10 years he has lead the team of US and Canadian cardiac surgeons working in Ukraine. He has also been involved in an extensive training programme for local doctors in Kharkiv. He undertakes many volunteer emergency surgical missions to some of the world's most dangerous and volatile countries. Last week he returned from his latest cardiac mercy mission to Benghazi in Libya.

 

The members of the team will include Frank Molloy, a specialist cardiac nurse with English roots now working in the US and Dr. Kathleen Fenton, originally of Washington DC, now living in Nicaragua.

                                            
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