Baby Heart foundation completes 95 heart surgeries for 2016

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The International Children’s Heart foundation (ICHF) commonly known as the Baby Heart Foundation has completed its fourth and final exercise for 2016, providing free heart surgeries for infants born with congenital heart defects.

Dr. Rodrigo Soto – Pediatric Cardiologist, Baby Heart Foundation

Babies benefitting from the surgeries were mostly from hinterland locations. Dr. Rodrigo Soto, Pediatric Cardiologist told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the results of these surgeries were favourable and encourages much more support from the foundation in 2017.

“We have completed 95 surgeries with very good results, with extremely low morbidity and with mortality of only two percent that compares very (favourably) with even the US or Europe, so we are very happy we have seen this programme grown exponentially and we look forward to our work in 2017,” Dr. Soto explained.

Dr. Soto added that the ICHF will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government through the Ministry of Public Health to perform surgeries on infants born with heart defects and abnormalities.

“We have, we are in the process now to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Public Health, and certainly the minister and the ministry understand pretty well the relevance of developing this programme, not only for the children with congenital heart disease but ….we are also building local capacity to manage a pediatric intensive care unit.”

Once the MoU is signed, volunteers from the foundation in the United States will continue making trips to Guyana four times annually until 2020.

Meanwhile for 2017, Dr. Soto said that what matters is the quality of care, level of results and education being meted out to the local team of health care professionals and workers.

The Baby Heart Foundation has thus far trained 40 nurses, two surgeons, seven pediatric registrars, six scrub nurses, four anesthetic cardiology residents and other local personnel. This is aimed at having the local health system equipped with specialists in the area.

When the programme began two years ago, no public health doctor had been exposed to pediatric cardiac surgery. One local doctor

Dr. Merissa Seepersaud – Pediatric Cardiologist, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation

benefitting from the training, Dr. Merissa Seepersaud told GINA of the overall intention of the foundation.

Seepersaud said, “The whole aim of Baby Heart care is to not just operate on children, but to make sure that they train the local team so that at some point in the future we will be able to take over, and have ourselves a self-sustained unit, and we have been working towards that for the last two years.”

Dr. Soto told of the most recent case that was operated on. “We did a small (child) 2.4- kilogramme patient that had a coarctation of aorta, which is a narrowing of the aorta that if it’s not treated, the patient will die in a few weeks to a month. He was operated on five days ago successfully, and he probably will be able to go home in the next two days.”

Congenital heart disease has a rate of 0.8 to one percent in the birth of babies per year which means that infants born in Guyana among these statistics will have Congenital Heart Disease, Dr. Soto said. “That would put Guyana in anything between 60 to 70 patients every year, new patients every year with congenital heart disease that require surgery.”

Once these statistics are taken into consideration more lives can be saved, with significant declines in infant mortality. The line of surgeries performed by the Baby Heart Foundation is a start to ensuring the babies born with heart complications and defects are identified and treated within a timely manner.


By: Delicia Haynes