x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

International team performs heart surgery on 25 children at no cost

Some of the surgeries included the complicated arterial switch procedure.

DUBAI // Doctors from the UAE and Italy have carried out life-saving surgeries on 25 children suffering from heart defects.

The operations were carried out at Dubai Hospital free of charge over the course of 10 days as part of a "heart-healthy initiative".

"This initiative has resulted in providing those patients who cannot afford treatment with a chance for survival," said Dr Obaid Al Jassim, the head of cardiology at Dubai Hospital. "All the cases have been successful."

He said a new batch of operations is to be carried out in October.

Under the initiative, which started in 2007, doctors from San Donato Hospital in Milan travel to the UAE as often as three times a year to perform complicated surgery alongside doctors from the Dubai Health Authority.

The children who had surgery were aged from one week to 19 years and were expatriate residents from such places as Yemen, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Iraq.

Some of the surgeries included the complicated arterial switch procedure.

The cost of the treatment, which would normally be up to Dh400,000, has been covered by the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment.

In the five years the programme has been running, more than 250 children of various nationalities have been treated.

Their operations were part of the wider Association of Children with Heart Disease in the World, a charitable Italian programme that has been running since 1992.

mcroucher@thenational.ae