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Story Highlights

  • The new Paediatric Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children is now operational.
  • For the period April 8 to 12, a volunteer medical mission team from the United Kingdom, organised through Chain of Hope, performed procedures on children suffering from congenital heart conditions in the unit, alongside the local cardiac team at the hospital.
  • Ten children were successfully treated using cardiac catheterisation, while another four underwent surgery in the unit, which is scheduled to be opened by the Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, on Monday, April 15.

The new Paediatric Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children is now operational.

For the period April 8 to 12, a volunteer medical mission team from the United Kingdom, organised through Chain of Hope, performed procedures on children suffering from congenital heart conditions in the unit, alongside the local cardiac team at the hospital.

Ten children were successfully treated using cardiac catheterisation, while another four underwent surgery in the unit, which is scheduled to be opened by the Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, on Monday, April 15.

The mission team was the first to be accommodated in the new cardiac facility.

Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at the hospital, Dr. Sharonne Forrester, explained that visiting cardiologist, Dr. John Thompson, worked with the local team in the brand-new cardiac catheterisation laboratory.

“We successfully did 10 patients over three days, and they are all well. During the latter half of the week, there was a surgical component to the mission, where we had visiting surgeon, Professor Victor Sang, who worked with our local team to do four cases,” she said.

For her part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chain of Hope, Emma Scanlan, explained that the unit, which houses the first catheter lab for children in the island, was done through the efforts of stakeholders such as the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation, Chain of Hope, Rotary International and Gift of Life International.

Shaggy and Friends, through their concerts, raised half of the money for the lab, which was US$700,000, she said.

The CEO pointed out that the 10 children who were treated in the catheter lab did not have to have their chests opened up.

“They don’t have to have the scar. They had their hearts fixed without open heart surgery, so you can imagine what that means for them and their parents,” she said.

She explained the significance of the new facility and what it means for paediatric healthcare in the country.

“Jamaica now has a state-of-the-art paediatric cardiac catheter lab for children. It is a biplane catheter lab – the only one of its kind in the island. It was purchased at a cost of US$1.5 million,” she noted.

“It’s modern technology that can be used for some cases. We are not sure if there is another biplane catheter lab in the entire Caribbean. You have a single-plane catheter lab at the University Hospital of the West Indies and at the Heart Institute of the Caribbean, but there is not another biplane one that we are aware of,” Ms. Scanlan said.

Also giving support to the establishment of the unit were Digicel, Sagicor and the Usain Bolt Foundation.