Thirteen Ethiopian patients, between the age group of 1-18 years, will return to Africa on March 27 after correcting congenital and other heart ailments at Amrita, said a heart surgeon on March 22, 2015. 

Dr. Krishnakumar R., Head of the Department of paediatric cardiology at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, expressed delight that he and his team were able to provide aid for these patients from a distant country.

“This batch of 13 patients came two weeks back and on Friday they all return after getting their heart ailments rectified through surgeries,” said Dr. Krishnakumar. 

The most remarkable aspect is barring four patients, who were below three years of age and were accompanied by their parents, none of the others had guardians to take care of them, pre- and post-surgery, he said.

Filimon Berhanie was seven-months-old when he was first taken ill. Hailing from Gonder, 400 km from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, Filimon, was diagnosed to have multiple holes between the two main pumping chambers of the heart.

Since there was no facility for treatment of paediatric heart ailment in his country, doctors at a hospital in Addis Ababa referred him to a specialty hospital in South Africa. But his father, who was a soldier, could not afford the expensive treatment and decided instead to come to Amrita for advanced treatment. 

Filimon, now fifteen years, is fully recovered from his cardiac ailment after undergoing a heart operation wherein seven holes were identified in his heart and successfully closed. He now looks forward to returning home and pursue his studies to become an engineer.

This batch of 13 children had ailments like advanced rheumatic heart valve disease, congenital heart defects and spinal tumour. 

This is the eighth batch of patients from Ethiopia, who have sought treatment here and returned. The initiative is supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“We are able to do at less than half of the costs that these patients would incur in countries like South Africa or Israel. We expect the next batch of patients to come in another three months. All these patients who undergo surgeries here are followed-up by a clinic in Ethiopia and the doctor sends us his evaluation of the patients to us. So we are always in touch with our patients,” added Dr. Krishnakumar.

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