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Wayne Blake and Esther Stephenson smile as they watch their infant son sleep in his hospital bed this morning (April 15) at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
Somewhere in the hospital, surgeons are preparing for surgery to mend a hole in the one-year old’s heart. But, the parents feel none of the dread that one would expect, at the thought of a child undergoing such major surgery.
In fact, they are relieved and happy that Dwayne’s heart will finally be mended, so he can live a long and normal life. “I just want him to grow up so we can play football,” is Mr. Blake simple wish for his young son.
Dwayne is among 20 children, who will benefit from open heart surgery at the hospital over the next nine days.

Parents, Wayne Blake and Esther Stephenson, spend quality time with son, Dwayne, before the one-year-old undergoes open heart surgery at the Bustamante Hospital for Children on Wednesday (April 15). Approximately 20 children are to benefit from open heart surgery over the next nine days. The operations will be performed by a team from the United States-based Caribbean Heart Menders Association and the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida.

The operations are being spearheaded by a team from the United States-based Caribbean Heart Menders Association and the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida.
The volunteer team of about 10 medical personnel, among them two cardiac surgeons, arrived in the island on Tuesday to perform the operations. Jamaican doctors and nurses have collaborated with the team to provide care and support for the children and their families.
Miss Stephenson says that although her son is a “very active child, who eats a lot,” the hole in his heart has prevented him from living a normal life. Dwayne was hospitalised for three months and wears a bag, which collects his waste. Cardiac surgeon, Dr. Jeff Jacobs, who is one of the Florida-based doctors, tells JIS News that without this operation, Dwayne may die within a year. “After the surgery, in which we will mend the hole, he will go on to live a happy normal life until age 80 or 90, having grandchildren,” he says.

Wayne Blake (left) and Esther Stephenson, whose one-year old son Dwayne, underwent heart surgery at the Bustamante Hospital for Children this morning Wednesday (April 15), meet with cardiac surgeons, Dr. Jeff Jacobs, (second right) and Dr. Kamal Pourmoghadam, before the operation. Approximately 20 children are to benefit from open heart surgery over the next nine days. The operations will be performed by a team from the United States-based Caribbean Heart Menders Association and the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida.

Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr. Lambert Innis, tells JIS News that the operation is free of charge to the parents, and each case is referred to the programme by the hospital. “We are very ecstatic about the surgeries and all will go well,” Dr. Innis says.
Each surgery will last about five hours and between seven to 10 days after the operation, the children should be able to return home with their parents.
The Florida-based team in collaboration with local surgeons has conducted heart surgeries at Bustamante Hospital since 2000, under the Cardiac Surgery Programme. The group has made three visits to the facility and has operated on 26 patients.

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