London: Muntada Aid is currently carrying out a paediatric heart surgeries mission at Qena University Hospital in Egypt. The mission started on the 28th of June and will continue until the 5th of July.
During the course of this operation, Muntada Aid is aiming to treat 70 to 80 patients. Whilst this endeavour is our 7th Little Hearts mission in Egypt, this marks the first such assignment in Qena.
The mission will be led by our Programmes Manager Kabir Miah, who has been leading our health missions across Asia and Africa for the past 6 years.
We will be operating on all types of congenital heart defects from aortic valve stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary valve stenosis, to other such types of heart defects.
We have arranged a team of 8 international paediatric cardiac specialists for this mission. These doctors have joined us from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands. We have also constituted a team of 10 Egyptian doctors who will be assisting our team of experts.
During the 9 days of our mission, Muntada Aid will be providing cardiac interventions from children as young as 2 months old to children in their early teens. All children that will be treated at the Qena University Hospital are from Egypt.
Our long-term aim is to build capacity and provide the necessary training required by doctors and other support staff, in order to conduct similar complex operations on children in Egypt and other North African countries. We have already signed the initial memorandum of understanding with Mansoura University hospital where we will be providing doctors with training and other related support to practice as pediatric heart surgeons.
Some of the medical staff and doctors from Mansoura University will be helping us during the course of the current mission.
Little Hearts is Muntada Aid’s flagship program, which provides free life-saving heart surgeries to children with congenital heart defects from underprivileged backgrounds irrespective of gender, race or religion.
Carrying out missions of this kind in developing countries is always a logistical challenge.
“When you are working in any developing country there is a lot of bureaucracy you need to deal with. Having said that we could not have asked for a better host this time around. Qena University Hospital has been very supportive throughout the process. Most of its cardiology department will be directly or indirectly helping us as we carry out life-saving surgeries on children at their facility,” said Miah.
Each mission normally takes up to three months of preparation from inception to delivery. After completing the ground research, we generally start communicating with a suitable hospital in the area. The next step of the process is getting in touch with various government departments of that country and local British consulates, should we need their help. The other part of the logistics is getting medical supplies into that country in advance from different countries. This can take up to a month; “sometimes the deliveries can be very last minute,” said Miah.
Muntada Aid has so far carried 29 Little Hearts missions in various countries and during these missions, we have performed just over 2,000 cardiac interventions and surgeries.
“Each mission is such a complex operation. We need to be very precise with regards to what medical supplies we need to order. Everything has to be perfect. Type of ailment and number of patients that are going to be treated are the details provided to us by the hospital and sometimes, we don’t get accurate lists. That is when it gets really tricky,” explained Miah.
But all of this is worth doing. And we are very fortunate to be in a position to provide this vital service to those who need it the most.
“The satisfying part of the job is seeing the journey of children from very sick to reaching a stage in their lives where they have the opportunity to live a normal life and do things children are supposed to do…dream about future,” said Miah.