Key global heart summit in Dubai strikes right beat

DUBAI — The International Humanitarian Forum for Cardiac Surgeons in Dubai, dubbed the Heart Summit, was inaugurated yesterday at Burj Al Arab by Hamad Abdel Rahman Al Midfa, UAE Minister of Health.

By Hani M Bathish

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Published: Fri 18 Feb 2005, 11:10 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:31 PM

The gathering, organised by Emirates World Heart and the UAE Red Crescent Society, discussed the latest developments in the field of cardiac surgery and is part of a humanitarian effort to offer free heart operations to needy patients.

The latest developments in heart transplant technology, beating heart surgery, myocardial regeneration and the treatment of aortic and mitral valve diseases, were just a few of the subjects covered at yesterday’s summit.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the International Humanitarian Forum for Cardiac Surgeons which is being held under the slogan “Zayed... A Caring Heart”, under the kind patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Society.

“This forum comes to continue along the path set by a great leader, the late President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to embody his compassion and to preserve and build on his accomplishments,” Midfa said.

He added that holding this forum in Dubai with the participation of an elite group of doctors and surgeons, focuses on the importance of this vital sector that has witnessed fast paced developments in the areas of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and arteries disease. Al Midfa said that scientists and researchers have responded to this health problem which is inextricably linked to the modern fast paced life-style.

Among the world pioneers in cardiac surgery who took part in the summit were: Professor Juan Carlos Chachques, chairman of the International Bioassist Society, director for clinical research, department of cardiovascular surgery and organ transplant, Broussais Hospital Paris and Pompidou European Hospital; Professor Afksendiyos Kalangos, President of the humanitarian association “Hearts for All”, Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, University Hospital of Geneva; Professor Roger Laham, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; Prof. Aart Brutel, professor and chairman, Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands, to name a few. Dr Adel Al Shamry, President of Emirates World Heart, said that the humanitarian effort to conduct heart operations for the needy patients in the UAE and other Arab countries, aims to carry out 100 operations abroad and a further 100 operations in the UAE this year alone.

He said that truely needy and deserving patients are selected through a rigorous selection process. Candidates are first evaluated by a medical technical committee and later by a humanitarian committee overseen by the RCS, which focuses on each patient’s inability to afford to pay for treatment.

“What we need is logistic support, surgeons are donating their time and expertise. We are trying to attract and keep the best Arab expertise to the UAE,” Dr Al Shamry said.

Peter Cruse, Medical Director of Welcare Hospital, said that the humanitarian effort is a combined public and private sector endeavour to offer cardiac surgery to patients who cannot afford it through a network of “humanitarian cardiac surgeons”. He said patients hail from Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Palestine and the UAE, adding that Welcare is the only private sector hospital to offer its facilities, since it has an established cardiac centre.

“The surgeries started last week, nine in Dubai and 17 in Abu Dhabi, a majority of them are valve replacement and mitral valve and aortic valve replacements, most of the patients are very young, the condition being congenital or the result of rheumatic fever,” Dr Cruse said, adding that in less developed countries congenital causes of heart problems are more common, while in more developed and affluent countries diseases of the arteries and heart caused by rich foods and a sedentary life-style are more common.

“The majority of cases are (heart) valves that need repair, on average such a surgery would cost between Dh30,000 to Dh50,000. It takes several hours and the efforts of a whole team in addition to the surgeon, from preparation of the patient, the actual surgery and post operative intensive care,” Dr Cruse said.

He said the forum will have a multidisciplinary focus, with no patenting of knowledge, adding that innovations and cutting edge techniques will be shared openly so they can be applied as soon as possible for the benefit of patients, in keeping with the vision of the late Shaikh Zayed.

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