Authorities of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) have expressed gratitude to their counterparts at Lisie Hospital in Karela, India for helping to save the lives of three Liberian children with congenital heart disease.
Dr. Sia W. Camanor, Head of the JFK Pediatric Ward under whose auspices the children were flown to India for surgeries, said more children and adults have gone to India to seek medical attention and that most of the medical care was provided free of charge but that the parents of these children, along with the hospital authorities wanted to express thanks to the administrators, including nurses, of Lisie Hospital for the services and care they provided to the Liberian children.
“The three parents have come back to say thanks and to express how grateful they are to JFK and Lisie hospitals,” Dr. Camanor added.
She thanked Mr. Samuel Mitchell, owner of a nearby upscale Liberian restaurant, for providing refreshments for the program.
Also expressing how thankful he is to the Indians, 9-year-old Pewee Roberts stated that before his surgery, he was unable to play football with his peers, but can now run and play football without breathing complications. Young Roberts drew laughter when he said he did not like the pain aspect of the recovery process.
On behalf of the mothers, Mrs. Alice K. Ballah, spoke positively of how they and their sick children were catered to by caregivers while at the hospital in India.
Mrs. Ballah, who is a herself a nurse, could not hold back her ‘tears of joy’ as she expressed how grateful she and her friends are to JFK, Lisie and everyone who helped in making it possible for them and their children to fly to India to undergo the surgeries, and for their children to have “a second chance to life. We remember waiting outside the operating theatre for our children. It is not a very good place to be. But thank God and every step of the way Lisie Hospital’s caregivers were very hospitable to us.”
She expressed the hope that the gesture that was accorded their children will not be the last, adding, “There are other children out there, who need a second chance to live.”
Dr. Endale Tafera, a Pediatric Cardiologist at JFK, who was instrumental in establishing the contacts with Lisie, for the sick children and their parents, also thanked the Indian-based hospital and JFK for working together to ensure that the young patients received good medical care.
He assured the Liberian government that his initiation will not be the last, and that he will do many more for any child diagnosed of heart condition.
On behalf of JFK, the Administrator, Mrs. Mary Howard-Nyaquie, said the senior management was glad to see that the lives of Liberian children could be saved.
“These three lives that were saved are of great impact to the country,” she added while thanking everyone who played a part in helping the children and their parents to leave Liberia for the surgeries.
Dr. Francis Kateh, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister for Health Services at the Ministry of Health, said he was filled with joy that three lives have been saved through foreign intervention.
He stated that what the Indian help to the three children has shown to health stakeholders is that when the “right people and the opportunity avails itself, definitely so much can be done and achieved.”
“There is an opportunity; we can begin to look at what we have and how we can bring in other pieces of equipment that we don’t have to add to the ones we have in order to do similar surgery in the country,” he said.
“Instead of sending the three persons away for surgeries,” Dr. Kateh said, the parents would have asked the experts to come and by that, many more lives can be saved.
It can be recalled that three Liberian children received the best Christmas gift ever on December 12, 2016 when an opportunity for a new lease on life through the collaboration of Dr. Tefera (Pediatric Cardiologist, Liberian College of Physician and Surgeon – LCPS) and Dr. Edwin Francis (Pediatric Cardiologist of the Lisie Hospital located in Cochin, India), were happy for the children to receive free corrective surgeries for their conditions.
Dr. Camanor, a pediatric consultant at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia, had earlier diagnosed the children with heart conditions for which she sought the assistance of the Lisie Hospital. The children, she observed, were suffering from a congenital heart disease commonly known as a “hole in the heart,” a condition that can cause a child to experience a variety of symptoms including weakness, poor growth and shortness of breath.
Congenital heart disease leads to a reduced quality of life and often a shorter life span if lifesaving surgery is not done.
“Bradley, Samuel and Pewee faced many challenges and would have succumbed to this illness had this opportunity not come,” Dr. Camanor told the Daily Observer at the JFK hospital prior to the departure of the children to India last year.
In Liberia, she said, ‘a hole in the heart’ is often a difficult diagnosis to treat due to the lack of facilities and specialists to perform open heart surgery.
“We, Dr. Sia Wata Camanor, Dr. Udhayashankar Kanagasabai, the Liberian Pediatric Cardiac patients and their families with grateful hearts would like to appreciate the individuals and organizations that worked tirelessly as a team and contributed financially to ensure that these three children received the heart surgeries they most needed in a foreign land. They are Lisie Hospital, Cochin, India, John F. Kennedy Medical Center Pediatric Department and Administration, the Ministry of Health of Liberia, Upjit Singh Sachdeva and the Indian High Commission to Liberia, the Royal Air Maroc, Sahara Travel, APSEN Medical, Mrs. Anandani of Raj Enterprises, Kelvin Sambola of Lord Kelvin Forex Bureau, Sam Mitchell, Corinal Hotel and the Daily Observer newspaper.