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Plan to establish paediatric heart surgery centre

By Hani M Bathish / 16 February 2004

DUBAI - The Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services is considering setting up a specialised centre in Dubai for conducting paediatric heart surgery to locally treat children born with life-threatening congenital heart conditions.

Over 600 children suffering from congenital heart disease are currently receiving treatment at Al Wasl Hospital, according to Dr Abdullah Al Khayat, Director of Al Wasl Hospital, who said that between 250 and 300 babies are born each year at the hospital suffering from congenital heart abnormalities.

Dr Al Khayat was speaking at the ceremony held at the hospital to celebrate World Heart Diseases Day, which falls on February 14 of each year.

Around 200 child patients suffering from these complications attended the ceremony.

He said that between six and eight children per 1,000 live births are born with congenital heart disease in the UAE, a number similar to the world average for congenital heart disease.

"The Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms) has equipped Al Wasl Hospital with the most modern medical diagnostic tools that have helped in a big way to detect such congenital abnormalities early before birth, which helps to ensure the baby is given the care and attention necessary for survival.

"In around 50 per cent of cases of congenital heart disease, surgical intervention is necessary to save the patient's life.

The remaining 50 per cent need constant follow up from the treating physician to abrogate the severity of the condition and to control it. In most cases the reasons for such conditions are hereditary factors or a viral infection during pregnancy," Dr Al Khayat said.

Dr Shahraban Abdullah, consultant and head of the Paediatrics Section at the hospital, said the day's activities were meant to be a social occasion where families of children with congenital heart disease can get to know one another and share their experiences so as not to feel as though they were all alone and that a number of fathers and mothers are dealing with the same problem.

Dr Abdullah said that many of children (at the hospital) who suffer from this disease have been subjected to many surgical procedures and are out of danger and have started to live normal lives. Children who need heart surgery are referred abroad and later come back home for treatment.

A number of children who have grown up with this potentially debilitating condition spoke during the ceremony about their experiences and the operations they underwent over the years to correct life threatening abnormalities.

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