From May 8th through May 22nd, ICHF has a medical team in Kharkiv (or Kharkov), Ukraine. Kharkiv is the 2nd largest city in Ukraine. The city is located in the northeast of the country. As of 2006, its population is 1,461,300. Every year, 6000 children are born in Ukraine with genetic heart diseases. Only will half will receive the surgeries that they need to survive, and will die. (Info from our partner, Chernobyl Children’s Project).
Some pictures and stories (Thanks to Frank Molloy of ICHF and Caroline Lonsdale, Volunteer)….
This is Natalie – age 24 – she was operated on Thursday 13th of May – the fourth day – of the 8th Mission of ICHF to Kharkiv. Interviewed Friday 14th May
When I met her on friday morning she slightly surprised me by speaking reasonably fluent English – she called me over in english – at this time she still had most of her tubes and wires in place – “Is my operation over, was I good?” – she was at this time less than 24 hours after her surgery “you have golden hands” she told me – a message I think to the whole team – she was hot and uncomfortable and I helped her sit up and sponged her back with a cold flannel -
She asked and I told her that today we would be taking out all her tubes – not to worry – and that she would have some medicine to make her a little sleepy and pain free while we did that , we did that – and she slept off the medication for a few hours – and then I took this photo..
Natalie is 24 – pictured with her sister Dina – 26 – Natalie was born with an abnormal Aortic Valve which had become leaky and was in need of replacing. The defect had been diagnosed 2 weeks after birth – so Natalie knew she had a heart problem all her life – with this type of defect the usual plan is to wait as long as possible before any surgery – as the natural valve can still function well for many years. Natalie told me how in recent years she had become increasingly tired and sweaty and get a headache with any exertion- she also described how her hands and feet would swell up and she described them as “ugly” – she likes to swim, and do disco dancing but could not do this as much as she wanted to in recent years. When asked what she was most looking forward to in life now – she said (through her sister Dina whose English was better than Natalies’ ) she wants to satisfy her soul, be pretty – get a husband and have children . Natalie and her sister both work as sales managers – which they described as “not hard work’ meaning physically she could manage that type of work with her heart problem.
She has a yellow and red cat – likes reading, swimming in the Black sea – likes driving a car and wishes someday to drive a motor boat, a popular pastime on the black sea by Odesa.
Natalie was very tired at the time of this picture – she wanted to leave the ICU and go back to her room – because she could not sleep here – her oxygen tube had been recently taken off her and if her oxygen levels stayed OK I told her she would for sure be able to leave in the next hours or two – I also told her that – subject to her surgeon Olga ( the local chief cardiac surgeon) she would probably be able to go home on Monday. Natalie was very surprised at this – and I followed up by asking what she was most looking forward to when she got home – “Drinking lots of cold water-” she said (fluid restriction after cardiac surgery makes many patients feel very thirsty) – she then looked away from me – grimaced – I thought she was going to laugh but she started crying , wiped her eyes – and said that the other thing she was most looking forward to was holding her mother, and her brother.
Some of the other patients include:
Kamila Cherkasova – 25 days old. Double outlet right ventricle. Right BT shunt performed. Kamila has been sick, but is getting slowly better. Remains in ICU, but is not on a ventilator.
Elina Lemoschenco – 1 year old. Patent ductus arteriosus. Elina had a PDA ligation, did very well. Discharged from ICU the following day.
Tatyana Golubkova – 17 years old. Aorto-atrial fistula and PFO. Tatyana had this repaired, extubated quickly and discharged from ICU the following day.
Achkason Bogdam – 16 months old. VSD closure. Extubated quickly and doing well.
Tatyana Lazazova – 3 years old. PDA ligation. Extubated quickly, and doing well.
Angelica Kurligina. 17 years old. Atrial septal defect repair, also found to have total venous anomalous drainage in OR (suspected by our cardiologist) which was also repaired. Angelina was extubated within 20 minutes of arrival in ICU. Discharged to the ward the next day.
Julia Kostomarova: 4months old. Tetralogy of Fallot with patent foreman ovale. Complete repair done. Extubated the following day. Remains in ICU at present with heart rhythm issues, but doing well.
Kristina Terehova: 4 years old. Tetalogy of Fallot with right pulmonary artery stenosis, who had had a previous BT shunt (not sure where) – Repaired. Extubated an hour after arrival in ICU. Should go to ward later this afternoon.
Dima Grudina: 2.5 years old. Atrial septal defect. Repaired. Extubated a couple of hours after arrival in ICU. Walked to the ward the next day.