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.
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 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.