News and Updates

Life-saving heart surgery for children in Kenya

The Emirates Airline Foundation extended support to the Take Heart Association Project to help children suffering from birth defects and cardiac illness. Successful open heart surgeries were performed, saving the lives of nine children.

A team of 12 specialist heart surgeons flew Emirates from the US to the Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. The volunteers came from Vanderbilt University, University of Mississippi, University of Maine, University of North Carolina and other locales.

The team screened 70 patients on-site, and admitted nine candidates for surgery. All of the surgeries were successful, seeing nine children’s lives saved. Some of the children had been waiting for a few years for surgery, but were denied a surgical spot in the past because other children were more critically ill.

Life-saving heart surgery for children in Kenya

One such case was Ian, who is 12 years old. Take Heart volunteer, Michael Liske, MD said, “Ian had severe rheumatic heart disease. He was very sharp, 5th in his class, and desires to be a doctor when he grows up. Because of his heart condition, he was short of breath and had swelling in his legs. After waiting many years, Ian finally underwent surgical mitral valve replacement on this trip. He was very unstable going into the surgery, but ultimately tolerated a very difficult repair. Importantly his life commitment remained unchanged, as he was heard saying within 6 hours of his surgery, ‘I want to be a doctor’, and ‘I want to heal people of their diseases.’ Knowing that our work is magnified in the lives of the children is very gratifying.”

A major emphasis of the trip was also the ongoing training of Kenyan staff to independently perform open heart surgery. Mitral valve replacement has been accomplished on adults without guidance of visiting physicians since 2013, and this year, added training was given which now enables the local team to perform operations on children as small as 25kg.

To learn more about how to support missions like this one by donating Miles to the Emirates Airline Foundation, log in to your Emirates Skywards account.

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