Posted on 28 April, 2015

The team started with renewed energy after the arrival of the supplies yesterday. Two surgeries were performed – including a shunt repair on 19 month-old Arnold, who is one of the sickest children on the list. He weighs in at just 6kg.

There was a surprise visit from one of the patients from the team’s trip in November – 4-year-old Said underwent surgery for VSD, and Dad says he is in hale health – running and playing with his friends. It is amazing how different this chubby little boy looks to the patients undergoing surgery, complete with a cheeky sparkle in his eye.


Prior to the start of surgery, the Director General of the Bugando Medical Centre, Professor Kien Mteta kindly welcomed the team and reiterated the importance of Open Heart International’s efforts to provide cardiac surgery for children who would otherwise be unlikely to survive to their teens.


Yesterday’s patient, Paulo, asserted himself as the new ICU bubble blowing champion, and is recovering well from a long surgery yesterday. Like many children, he has previously had rheumatic fever, which made his surgery more complicated.

After a busy day trouble shooting in the operating theatre yesterday, the team’s Biomedical technician, “Mr Fix-it” La Vu had time today to tinker with some failed Anaesthetic monitors. La is the go-to man for anything electronic-related on this trip, bringing elderly equipment back to life, problem-solving issues with the heart lung machine and other theatre equipment and calibrating the ICU blood gas machine.


Just as useful, he can make appliances with European plugs work in the predominantly UK power sockets – a value beyond worth in a country where many things are imported with the incorrect plugs.

La’s day job is at St George Hospital in Sydney, and this is his fourth trip with Open Heart International, following a trip to Papua New Guinea and last November’s trip to Rwanda and Tanzania.

Often Biomeds are in the background of medical care, with little or no interaction with patients. Not so on this trip – La’s skills place him at the centre of the team, and he enjoys the chance to engage with the little patients.

He has developed a good working relationship with the local team, and they are more than happy to provide him with equipment which is no longer working so he has something to tinker with when he is not required by the team.


Tags:  East Africa,