DUBAI // Children and young adults with heart problems will be treated by a team of specialist physicians from Italy next month.
The visiting medics from San Donato Hospital in Milan will be in Dubai from October 21 until the end of the month.
Doctors based in the emirates will consult alongside them.
"During this period we will see patients who have congenital heart disease - from newborns to age 19 and even older, if necessary," said Dr Obaid Al Jassim, a consultant cardiac surgeon and head of the cardiothoracic surgery department at Dubai Hospital.
"We usually see about 40 to 50 cases during this period." The team will conduct sonograms of the heart to determine which patients are in the most need.
"If anyone wants to have a consultation, they can contact Dubai Hospital and we will arrange it accordingly," Dr Al Jassim said.
The Italian medical team visits Dubai about three times a year.
Their last visit was in June, in an exchange programme that began in October 2007 and is now on its ninth round.
"The first four workshops were with a Swedish team and now we are working with an Italian team," Dr Al Jassim said.
"The purpose of it is the transfer of knowledge among doctors, to relieve the burden of families going abroad and cut the cost of sending local patients abroad.
"It is a joint force of doctors - we have a local team from Dubai Health Authority working with visiting doctors.
"We are trying to help these children because it is a very difficult disease to treat and is costly." The costs for Emirati patients are covered by Dubai Health Authority.
Expatriates are covered by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment.
"Both locals and expatriates can get in touch with us," Dr Al Jassim said.
"For those who cannot afford the surgery and have documents to show they cannot afford it, we help them with the charity financing."
The Dubai team handles paediatric cases throughout the year but takes on more difficult cases of correcting heart defects with the Italian doctors.
"If the defect cannot be corrected with catheterisation, patients will undergo surgery," Dr Al Jassim said.
"There are many different types of congenital heart defects."
Anyone interested in a consultation should contact Dubai Hospital on 04 219 5000 or 04 219 5643