Posted on 20 October, 2016

The next day breaks and one by one the children are wheeled into theatre where they are given their heart surgery.

Amazingly, by a surgical team made up wholly of women! Except for one male Neils, all our paediatric surgical team are female.

When I investigate why, I’m told Burma is a matriarchal society, where the women tend to go into medicine and the men into business. Though, after digging a wee bit deeper, I discovered the medical profession here in Burma is not on a very good wage. The surgeons here earn about $50 a month. In fact, the male taxi drivers here earn more than a Burmese surgeon!

Seems to be ringing a bell. Nursing and teaching in Australia are predominantly female and yep, they also have low wages.

Arh, but the children are very lucky to have so many wonderful women looking after them. We have Yishay Orr, our Australian female heart surgeon and Win Win Kyaw, the Burmese female heart surgeon. Supporting them is Ramanie the anaesthetist, Jessica the perfusionist, our nurses Jenny, Carolyn and Avi and a seemingly endless amount of Burmese female medical staff and trainees. And not to forget the fabulous male in our team, Niels, the intensivist.

By the way, I have no idea what all these medical terms are yet, except for everyone’s favourite, the anaesthetist, who puts you sound asleep. But I have worked out the perfusionist doesn’t make perfume and the intensivist is not an intervention group leader on an American personal growth camp.

With such a great team of medico’s, the surgery went perfectly. Yet, as they wheel the little boy, ‘Phone Dana’ out of theatre, he looks so fragile. I don’t know what an intensive care unit should look like, but to me it seems crazy and crowded, with an endless supply of Burmese staff falling over each other in their enthusiasm to help and to learn. So passionate in their intentions.

It’s overwhelming and little Phone Dana, has tubes coming from everywhere. His tiny body looks very pale and suddenly, there’s a flatline on the screen. I feel sick…

Niels, who seems still amongst the sea of rushing uniforms, explains calmly to the blurring figures why it doesn’t mean the child’s heart had stopped.

My mouth is agape, my camera stops, then our nurse Carolyn finds a plug which has fallen out the back of the IC monitor.

I’ve come to realised that equipment hiccups and power failures are a common occurrence.

But here he is, our little Phone Dana, all bandaged up, with his whole life ahead of him.

Tags:  Myanmar,