It reads like fiction — the baby born with half a heart saved by a surgical wizard paid for by Irish funds.
However the facts are indisputable: Yegour was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on November 9 with a partially formed heart and was destined to die within hours in the absence of emergency surgery.
In the most serendipitous of circumstances, it happened that one Bill Novick, a world-class American cardiac surgeon, was reasonably close at hand, having worked earlier that day with a ‘flying doctors’ mission, funded by Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International in the nearby Amosov Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery.
A team from the maternity hospital dashed to the cardiac hospital, woke Dr Novick at 1am, and begged him to come to the rescue.
The doctor dutifully obliged and, over the next 12 hours, worked his magic to save one-day-old Yegour’s life. His team was assisted by Irish nurse, Susan Clarke, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, who is living in London and was volunteering on the mission.
The cardiac team wept with joy at the successful outcome because they had neither the expertise nor training to save Yegour, who was born with fatal hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Chernobyl Children International’s voluntary CEO, Adi Roche, in Kiev at the time of Yegour’s surgery, described Dr Novick’s work as a miracle.
“Yegour owes his life to the kindness and generosity of the Irish people who funded this mission,” she said. “Dr Novick has the expertise and knowledge, but without the funding behind this trip, Yegour would have most certainly died before the end of the week.”
Yegour is the first child in Ukraine who has ever survived this complex surgery.
“Even though Yegour will be visited by Santa Claus on December 25, he has already received the best gift he will ever receive — the gift of life and that is thanks to the people of Ireland” said Ms Roche.
The doctors and nurses on Dr Novick’s team were all there voluntarily, meaning Chernobyl Children International can save the life of a child born with a congenital heart defect for only €1,000.
Every mission aims to save as many children as possible, while also running training for local teams, in tandem with surgeries.
Without emergency surgery, up to 50% of these children will die before their sixth birthday due to lack of facilities and training.
Every year, 6,000 children are born with genetic heart diseases and defects in Ukraine. Medical experts say these conditions, some of which they describe as ‘Chernobyl heart’, are linked to radiation leaks from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in 1986.
chernobyl-international.com for donations.
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