Children with heart problems receive treatment through UK charity | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News

At least 11 Jamaican children with heart defects have benefited from life-changing procedures thanks to UK-based charity Chain of Hope in collaboration with the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston.

The Chain of Hope team consisted of seven talented medical professionals who brought lifesaving equipment and necessary disposables. They performed the cardiac catheterization procedures costing over US$5,000 ($776,000), each at the island’s only pediatric hospital this week.

The medical mission was the first such undertaking in nearly two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at the Bustamante Hospital for Children Dr Sharonne Forrester said the procedures are very expensive and cannot be afforded by most Jamaicans.

“It may cost as much as US$3,000 per device and cost up to $US6,000 per patient for the procedures overall”, she told Loop News, adding that the procedures came at no cost to the patients because of the sponsorship of the Chain of Hope UK.

Dr Forrester explained, “cardiac catheterization is a non-surgical procedure in which a flexible tube is inserted into the heart which allows interventional procedures to be done”.

She disclosed that approximately one in ten children are born with heart problems of varying levels of complexity but only about 60 per cent of them required some kind of corrective procedure, for example, closing holes in the heart or repairing defective valves.

Medical professionals performing one of many life-saving, catheterization surgery at the Paediatric Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

The children were selected for the procedure based on their clinical status and anatomy of their heart problems.

Dr Forrester noted that the children were not necessarily in danger of dying but that the procedures would significantly improve their quality of life.

“The longer you take to do them, the more it affects their quality of life, how active the child can be without having symptoms and being placed on medication,” she noted.

The pediatric cardiologist expressed gratitude for the association with the Chain of Hope charity which has been visiting Jamaica since the 1990s.

“I hope (the association) will continue as Chain of Hope has been assisting us in doing these cases and training our local staff so that we can carry on independently of them in taking care of our patients. The cost of these procedures are not cheap, Assistance will always be needed from the private sector in offsetting the costs”, she said.