Posted on 29 May, 2019

Daily Update – Thursday 30th May 2019

More tales from Taveuni – Thursday 30th May 2019

We are back and full-steam ahead. It’s another beautiful sunny day, and we are doing another 5 to 6-cases.

The great news is Tamarisi, and all our patients, are doing well. Tamarisi had her mitral valve repaired, a great outcome for her as she won’t need blood thinning agents. She returned from theatre last night, was woken up in ICU a few hours later, and today is walking around. A bit reluctantly, a little bit grumpy, but ready to go to the ward. I have no doubt she will be bossing us around again soon.

Today we have another patient from Taveuni, Anna. What is unique about Anna is she made the same trip 24 years ago. In 1995, on one of the first Open Heart International trips, Anna also had a mitral valve repair. This meant she was able to have a family, to raise them, and she now has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Over the last year she has started to become tired and breathless, signs her repair was wearing out. So, a quarter of a century later she is back in Suva, to have a mitral valve replacement, and a chance for another quarter of century of life. She is nervous, but grateful for the chance to see her grandchildren grow up.

As for us, we are deep in to the week, trying to get as much work done as possible, mixing with our colleagues and friends at Colonial War Memorial, and meeting patients and families. We are already experiencing the pleasure of seeing patients like Tamarisi walking around and recovering, and the hope of giving bubbly, wonderful patients like Anna extra decades of life.

Until tomorrow.

Written by: Neil Orford

Daily Update – Wednesday 29th May 2019

Tamarisi – Wednesday 29th May 2019

Meet Tamarisi. She is only 7 years old and she is the 850th patient to undergo heart surgery with the Open Heart International Fiji project.

Tamarisi was healthy until last year, when she developed a sore throat and fever, the sign of rheumatic fever. This progressed to rheumatic heart disease, with scarring of her heart valves making her sicker, with a fast heart rate, loss of appetite, fluid build-up in her lungs and low blood pressure.

Tamarisi has come over to Suva for a valve repair, from the beautiful island of Taveuni. With her mother she travelled by boat ride to Lambasa, followed by a plane ride, funded by the health department, all the way to Suva.

We went to meet Tamarisi, she was just hours away from her big surgery, and very very hungry. When we visited her in the surgical ward, however, she was still wandering around, reading clipboards over the shoulders of doctors, talking to other patients, and asserting her dominance as an important figure in the hospital!

Back home in Taveuni, Tamarisi is one of five. Her mother, told us her father and relatives were watching the four other children, aged 1 to 13, so she could travel with her daughter, undergo this life saving surgery and allow her to receive the best treatment. Her mother was emotional following the extremely long trip, the relief at the prospect of her daughter getting the treatment she needs, the anxiety of watching her head off for major heart surgery.

I’m sitting in the ICU, helping colour-coordinate the bed that Tamarisi will be moved to following her surgery. The nurses have chosen purple as the main colour, with a purple teddy, pillow and blanket. We are looking forward to seeing Tamarisi here in the ICU, and I’m sure she is looking forward to finally being able to eat.

So, while we are waiting for Tamarisi to have her surgery, an update on Fiji. This is my first trip, and having just travelled from Melbourne a day ago, where the weather was sitting at around 7°C, it is a nice change of climate. It is 28°C, humid and sunny, and luckily for us the hospital is air conditioned.

I will be in touch tomorrow to let you know how she is.

Written by: Clara Orford

Daily Update – Tuesday 28 May 2019

Daily Update – Monday 27 May 2019

Daily Update – Saturday 25 May 2019

Tags:  Cardiac, Fiji,