Help Save 55 Precious Lives

In one of PIMA’s most challenging and rewarding expeditions in its 12 year history, we have just returned from a 14,000 mile round trip to isolated islands in the Central Pacific where more than 500 heart patients were examined and 55 identified needing life-saving heart surgery.

Team Leader and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD of Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas examined more than 400 patients within ten days and found 55 islanders in need of life-saving surgery.

Team Leader and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD of Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas examined more than 400 patients within ten days and found 55 islanders in need of life-saving surgery.

Thirteen of the 55 needing open-heart surgery are children less than 14 years old, said Pacific Islands Medical Aid president Carlton Smith.

“The real challenge begins now. We need your help to save these precious lives,” Carlton said. Most suffer with rheumatic heart disease, the result of untreated rheumatic fever, now requiring heart valve replacements.

Team leader and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD of Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas is arranging now for surgeries to be performed at his hospital and others in Texas, but we need to make arrangements for transportation, lodging and other expenses, Carlton said.

Please consider making your holiday contribution to PIMA for this most worthy cause, where 100 percent of your donation will go directly to help save these lives.

The PIMA Heart Team traveled more than 13,000 miles roundtrip to help those in need. They are, from left; cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore MD, nurse Amy Moore, cardiac sonographer Michael Rampoldi and PIMA president Carlton Smith.

The PIMA Heart Team traveled more than 13,000 miles roundtrip to help those in need. They are, from left; cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore MD, nurse Amy Moore, cardiac sonographer Michael Rampoldi and PIMA president Carlton Smith.

The patients, all from the Republic of Kiribati, come from the islands of Tarawa, North Tarawa, Betio, Beru, Nikunau, Nonouti, Arorae, Tamana, Tabiteuea South and Tabiteuea North.

Heart Team members, including Dr. Moore, cardiac sonographer Michael Rampoldi and nurse Amy Moore saw patients at two Kiribati hospitals, one in Tarawa (the nation’s capital) and a newer facility in Tabiteuea North. Patients were pre-screened for symptoms so team members were able to concentrate on the most obvious heart cases.

“It is our hope to bring the first group of most urgent cases to Texas for surgery in late December,” Carlton said.

Nearly 500 Heart Patients Screened

Unlike previous missions to Christmas Island in Kiribati, our PIMA heart team; led by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore MD, this time provided screenings to eight additional islands in the Republic of Kiribati.

We began our trip in November at Tabiteuea North, which is an island south of the capital of Tarawa, and which is rarely visited by outsiders.

Preparations began months before we arrived, where one of the specially trained medical assistants, Kautu, visited multiple adjacent islands in search of patients with specific symptoms in an effort to maximize the efficiency of our Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA) heart team. It paid off.

We screened almost 300 patients there and identified 22 surgical candidates, including children with congenital heart conditions… where we hope to have corrective surgery as soon as January of 2017.

We were welcomed with open arms and a sense of gratitude I’ve only experienced with the Kiribati people.

Our next mission was to evaluate residents on Tarawa and surrounding islands, where our total screenings reached nearly 500 with 55 surgical candidates.

The local staff, led by Kiribati Director of Hospital Services, Dr. Burentau, was most helpful. Staff members many times worked well past their normal hours and into the night to make sure we were able to evaluate everyone who came forward.

Leaving was sad for all of us, as we grew close to the people of Kiribati and the staff we were able to work with. But the mission continues and we will return time and time again to provide whatever assistance we can.

And in the future, we plan to provide a cardiac ultrasound course to some staff members, to teach screening techniques. This, and other efforts, will be vital to supporting the medical staff there and sustaining the heart-screening program in Kiribati.