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African children got life as a Diwali gift In India
Abhijit Mulye
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 AT 03:57 PM (IST)
Mumbai : Diwali in India proved to be life saver for them. Doctors at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai successfully treated 11 Ethiopian patients who had lost hope for their lives. Some of the cases had a very high degree of complexity, but have been tackled satisfactorily. This has proved the strength of knowledge and skills of Indian doctors once again. 
“As a child I could never play with friends, never run. I used to get fatigued very early. This problem was realized ever since I was just three years old. I’m 17 now. All these years I’ve hardly been able to walk for 15-20 minutes at stretch. But, now that I’ve been operated, I’m feeling quiet better. In fact I’m feeling like I can start running and dancing right now,” says Anwar Abdullah.
Anwar a 12th grade sociology student is one of the 11 Ethiopian patients who have been operated for various cardiac conditions recently at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai. “Seven of these patients had advanced rheumatic heart valve disease and four had untreated congenital heart defects. Nine of the 11 patients required open heart surgery and others underwent balloon dilation of a severely narrowed heart valve. All the procedures were successful and the patients are to fly back very soon,” informs Dr. Krishna Kumar, the pediatric cardiologist at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai. 
Ethiopian patients enjoying meals after recovery.
He further says, “Patients from African countries generally pose significant challenge because the disease tends to be very advanced. In the patients recently treated, advanced heart valve disease and congenital heart disease presented unique set of challenges. In such cases, damage to heart chambers is considerable. Narrowed or leaking valves result long-standing enlargement of heart chambers, irregular heart rhythm and elevation of pressures in the lung vessels. Operating on patients with such conditions require advanced infrastructure and equipment, cardiac surgeons with exceptional skills and a cohesive team of supporting personnel that include cardiologists and cardiac anesthesiologists.”
“One of the children with congenital heart disease had advanced weakness of the main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. This association posed a serious risk to his life. But, these heart defects are now removed and patient has recovered well after cardiac surgery,” Says Dr. Shivaprakasha, the pediatric cardiac surgeon at Seven Hills Hospital.
Anwar with Ana & other paramedic staff from Ethiopia.
All the patients and the paramedic staff with them are greatly satisfied with the services they received at Seven Hills Hospital. “I’m a nurse myself. I have seen various hospitals around the world. I’ve taken such patients there. So, I can say this is the best place we’ve found so far, where all the staff has given a great example of care,” says Ana, who is accompanying the patients. Anwar endorses her, saying that, “They treated us like brothers and sisters. They treated us with their heart!”
Patients with heart valve disease were operated by cardiac surgeon, Dr. Satyaprasad; while patients with congenital heart disease required a dedicated pediatric cardiac team, which includes Dr. Shivaprakasha, pediatric cardiac surgeon and Dr. Krishna Kumar, pediatric cardiologist. Balloon procedures were performed by cardiologists, Dr. Harminder Singh, Dr. Sanjay Rajdev and Dr. Saurin Patel. 
Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability all over the world. But, there continues to be extraordinary differences in the facilities for treatment of heart diseases. The African continent in particular suffers from a very high burden of rheumatic and other forms of structural heart disease. Unfortunately, most of Africa has very limited human and material resources required to deal with heart disease. These include facilities for open heart surgery and catheter interventions. Thus for many countries, patients need to be sent overseas. Traditional destinations for heart patients included Europe and the US. However, the costs of care in most of these countries are prohibitively high. Additionally, there are numerous logistic hurdles.
Recently, select centers in India have become a destination for patients from Africa. The cost of services in these centers is a fraction of those in the developed nations. Additionally, centers in India are better equipped to deal with advanced rheumatic and congenital heart disease because the doctors are more familiar with the disease profile of patients from Africa. We are glad that Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai is rapidly emerging as major center among such centers, where we’ve treated around 50 patients in past four months, Says Dr. C. K. Taneja, Senior Vice President of Seven Hills Hospital.