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An act to save lives

Monday, April 16, 2018

EIGHT children born with defects in their hearts have undergone life-saving surgery within the past three days as part of the 'Gift of Life' initiative.

More children will be receiving the "Gift of Life" surgeries over the next few days, thanks to the international team of congenital heart specialists who arrived in the country late last week.

The team, led by leading pediatric heart surgeon Dr Ashish Katewa, is in Fiji as part of the Gift of Life initiative organised by the Sai Prema Foundation.

This is the second time the foundation has co-ordinated and facilitated the free congenital heart surgeries, in conjunction with the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital. The first was in 2016 when 23 children successfully underwent heart surgery.

The team aims to help at least 25 children who need open-heart surgery, an option that normally requires families to spend more than $100,000 because there are no local surgeons and clinicians to be able to provide the service in Fiji.

Last week the Foundation received $20,000 from the ATH Foundation for the Gift of Life initiative.

"I am overjoyed by the support given by the Vodafone ATH Foundation along with other organisations and individuals towards our Gift of Life Heart Surgeries project," said foundation director Sumeet Tappoo.

"This is a huge undertaking for our foundation and it is heartening to know that there are organisations and individuals in society who support such projects."

Vodafone ATH Foundation executive Ambalika Kutty said the Gift of Life initiative was a wonderful cause deserving of support.

"We salute all the volunteer doctors and professionals for donating their knowledge, skill, passion, effort and time towards this hearty cause," she said. "We wish the team every best in screening and successful surgeries."

She said to date, the Vodafone ATH Foundation had directed about $1.3 million towards heart surgeries for children since 2006.

"This was done to help the parents and families who could not afford to save their children's lives," she said. "It has forever been heart touching to see these surgeries being successful."

Mr Tappoo said the Gift of Life initiative was more than the saving of money for Fijian families.

"It saves the lives of these children and gives them an abundance of happiness and joy to the helpless parents; many of whom have faced many days, months and sometimes years of sleepless nights," he said.

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