The Pediatric Cardiac Team provide their services where they are needed most. The multi-disciplinary group, on any given mission, perform 15 cardiac surgeries and up to 25 cardiac interventions. They also facilitate the transfer of the more complex patients to Qatar to be treated at HMC. The process of determining which patients require critical care is a daunting task and hinges on the relationships built between the cardiac teams here and abroad.
Cardiologists abroad send investigations to Dr. Ahmed Sallehuddin via drop boxes. The Cardiac Team determines, based on stringent criteria, which patients will need to be treated in Qatar, due to lack of facility and adequate technology in their home country. The Cardiac Team’s connection with charities is integral to the success of the initiatives. The charity sponsors the visa for the child and his parents and incurs the cost of care. HMC not only caters to the medical needs, they provide accommodation at the Hamad Medical City Club Hotel. The patient arrives one week prior to surgery, is admitted and post-surgery is observed for three weeks, and then discharged and able to travel home. The Cardiac Team has inspired and worked together as a multi-disciplinary to provide necessary medical attention to these children.
Odai with his family
Of the numerous patients that have been treated in Qatar through this initiative, one was 4-year-old Odai Haitham Abdulla Al-Balon; the other was 1-year-old Asjad Abdul Halim Al-Mahi. Before the cardiac surgeries, the quality of life for both these patients was grim. They were nutritionally depleted, had limited movement and energy, made frequent hospital visits due to increased risk of infection, and were predicted to have a short life span. The patients and families had to cope with anxiety of the urgency of receiving treatment before the condition became irreversible.
Son of a freelance laborer and a middle child, Odai was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Odai suffered from weight loss and susceptibility to infections severely limited his ability to move freely and live like a regular child his age. The Cardiac Team performed an AV Canal Repair, which went extremely well. Asjad, the only daughter, travelled from Sudan with her father, a school teacher, and her mother to receive treatment in HMC, due to the lack of essential equipment that would be needed in Sudan. She was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), which caused her difficulty in breathing. The Cardiac Team performed a corrective procedure and treated her Pericardial Effusion, a common side effect of closure of VSD. Asjad’s prognosis is good and she will make a full recovery. The families expressed enormous gratitude and unparalleled joy for the services and treatment they received from the Cardiac Team, HMC and the various charities involved.
Asjad with her family
For follow-up, the Cardiac Team liaises with cardiologists on the patients’ progress. During their missions, the Cardiac Team makes it a priority to see these patients in-person for a thorough review and follow-up with the primary attending cardiologist. The parents show overwhelming enthusiasm and appreciation. Patients come from 600km away to meet them, some travel overnight, and some even share their livestock over traditional meals.