This year each person who buys a gold heart from Variety, the children’s charity, will help save a heart.
That’s because, as the Variety Club noted, an estimated 15 of the 30 to 35 children born in Barbados annually with hearts defects, require some type of intervention, and the charity is moving quick to ensure the necessary specialists will be able to come here.
Speaking at the launch of the Hearts4Hearts this afternoon at the Bouginvillea Beach Resort in Maxwell, Christ Church, president of the local chapter of Variety, Colin Brewer, explained that many of the children who needed surgery either did not have health insurance or could not afford the high price tag associated with travelling to the United States or Canada to have these procedures done.
Hence, these children were backlogged until their parents could raise the funds or until Government provided the funding. But he was hopeful that this would soon come to an end as his organization had endeavoured that each of these children would have the necessary surgery to ensure they had fulfilling, quality lives.
With this in mind, all the funds raised from the sale of gold hearts, as well as donations, will go towards bringing specialists to the island to carry out the needed surgeries on the children.
“There are many children who are not getting what they need and our job is to fill that gap,” he stressed.
“It is much cheaper to be able to bring those specialist surgeons and their support team . . . to Barbados for a week at a time, and in one week they can do five or six surgical operations and can deal with five or six children. The cost is a fraction of the cost of sending children overseas for the surgeries, especially if you include flying them [and their parents] to the States.
“So if we can bring them to Barbados for two or three weeks every year then Barbados would deal with this problem on an ongoing basis. We will be able to keep up with the number of heart defects that we experience in our community.
“So our project is to reach a point where we don’t deal with each one as an individual occurrence, but we are able to sustain a programme that
will allow these heart surgeries to be performed in Barbados,” he said.
In the past, local surgeon Dr Richard Ishmael partnered with foreign specialists to perform such operations, many of which were non-evasive, but this new project with Dr José Ettedgui from the United States, Brewer reasoned would be more sustained.
Dr Ettedgui, he said, had ties with Barbados and would be providing his service free of cost.
Surgeries are presently being done on the island and with his expertise they are hopeful that at least six operations could be done this year alone and they could as well begin to nip at the backlog.
“It is an extremely expensive matter and the truth of the matter is, the Government has never been able to provide all the funds that are necessary for all the children who need this specialist surgery to receive this surgery. What we would like to do in the future is that all the children who need the specialist surgery . . . that they all get that surgery.
“Just think about it; all the children who have not had the support, who have not had the insurance and they have not been able to get the money from Government; all those children are living lives that are compromised to a greater or lesser extent by inability to have this necessary surgery,” said Brewer.
Tins where persons can begin to Buy A Heart And Save A Child will be available from Friday at various banks, supermarkets and schools across the island.