Photos by Scott Streble
Born with heart disease, Mythilli and Mohamed from India were at high risk for surgery because of the complexity of their heart defect. This is no longer the case. They both had successful heart surgery based on the Ozaki technique that hadn’t been used in India before.
Dr. Raju Vijayakumar (Dr. Vijay), heart surgeon at G. Kuppusamy Naidu Memorial Hospital (GKNM) in Coimbatore, took full advantage of the training opportunity due to the partnership with Children’s HeartLink. In November 2019, our medical volunteer Dr. Chris Baird from Boston Children’s Hospital helped Dr. Vijay’s team conduct two surgeries with the use of the Ozaki technique for aortic valve reconstruction. Dr. Baird is an expert on this procedure and adapted it from adult patients to children.
After one week of training, the GKNM’s team started performing this complex surgery on their own. Now, other children like Mythili and Mohamed can lead a full life after being treated. Diagnosed with heart disease at age 4, Mythili waited 12 years for her heart to be repaired! This surgery restored her energy and allowed her to return to school. Mohamed’s recovery was fast as his surgery was timely, at age 2.
So far, 16 patients were successfully operated on at GKNM with the use of the Ozaki technique.
Dr. Vijay visiting Mythili and her family
“This technique of Ozaki reconstruction is very valuable in a low-resource setting which will benefit young heart patients. I sincerely thank the Children’s HeartLink team for motivating Dr. Baird to visit my center and helping me do more complex operations. Dr. Baird is an excellent teacher and a great motivator. His visit was a real eye-opener for me. His suggestions on shaping our pediatric cardiac program will help take it to the next level in the upcoming days,” says Dr. Vijay.
Mohamed with his mother
To maximize the value of his visit, Dr. Baird also did training during the GKNM conference and then traveled to the nearby Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, also our partner.
“One small visit trained many clinicians and will educate untold more. It is clearly a statement of the power of Children’s HeartLink’s capacity building model, and why funding just one training matters. It reflects on the power of Children’s HeartLink working together with partners and volunteers to save lives,” says Anne Betzner, PhD, Vice President of Evaluation and Programs.
Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. Founded in 1969, we currently support 18 partner hospitals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. Last year alone, the medical providers we trained served 177,000 children with heart disease, more than ever before.