Despite the ongoing political instability in the region, Irish humanitarian aid charity, Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International, has flown a team of leading international surgeons to Eastern Ukraine to carry out urgently-needed operations on children suffering from genetic heart defects.
The ‘Flying Doctors’ team is led by U.S. cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr Bill Novick. Dr Novick and his team flew into Kharkiv this week where they are performing urgent, life-saving heart operation on numerous children with complex cardiac conditions and genetic heart defects. Following a week of surgeries in Kharkiv, Dr. Novick and his team will travel to Kiev to begin working on children in this region of Ukraine for the very first time. Without the intervention of these highly skilled surgeons most of these children would die before the age of six.
Chernobyl Children International (CCI) funds six surgical missions to Ukraine each year in conjunction with the Novick Cardiac Alliance. Multiple children are operated on during each mission. Because of the volunteer work of the international surgeons each operation can be carried out for approximately €1,000.
Voluntary CEO Adi Roche will fly to Kiev next week to oversee the development of the cardiac programme in the Amosov Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery there. Adi will travel with CCI Board member and Dept. of Social Protection civil servant, Helen Faughnan. Speaking about the cardiac programme in Ukraine, Adi said;
“It is inspiring that in spite of the instability within the region that these brave doctors are willing travel to Ukraine to deliver these life-saving surgeries. Without the generosity of the Irish people and the bravery of these doctors, these children’s future would be bleak. The interventions that are being undertaken offers so much hope to these children and their families”
The condition known as “Chernobyl Heart” is a life-threatening, genetic heart defect. Its victims are born with multiple holes in the heart. 6,000 children are born in the Chernobyl-affected region every year with “Chernobyl Heart”, however 50% of these children cannot be operated on due to lack of facilities and training. Over a 5-year period, 15,000 children will die from the effects of “Chernobyl Heart”. CCI provides clinical, educational and training interventions on every mission. The facilities and level of expertise in Kharkiv General Hospital has improved dramatically since CCI’s intervention. Until now, the hospital in Kharkiv had been the only hospital who could provide these critical operations to the families stricken by the fallout of the devastating Chernobyl disaster however CCI are hopeful that it is possible to develop the cardiac programme in Kiev to the same high standard as it is in Kharkiv and in Belarus before that.
“It is incredibly exciting to expand this highly successful programme into Kiev because for so long children have been suffering from the fallout of both Chernobyl and the conflict in Ukraine. Children are our future, so it is harrowing to know that these children have been unreachable due to no fault of their own. We will now be able to reach more children and offer hope to those who may not have survived in the past”, said Adi Roche.