21 Aug 2014

NZ doctors to perform heart surgery on Fiji children

7:29 pm on 21 August 2014

A team from New Zealand is to travel to Fiji to perform heart surgery on a number of critically ill young children.

The Friends of Pacific Foundation has organised the mission, which is to begin at the start of September, and is the first year the mission will treat children with heart disease.

The team is to perform heart surgery on up to 12 children, aged between 7 weeks and 3 years old.

One of the heads of the team, a heart doctor at Auckland's Starship Hospital, Dr John Wright, estimates about 150 babies are born with congenital heart disease a year in Fiji.

He says there's a huge unmet need, and they have chosen to operate on children who are either too ill to travel to recieve overseas treatment, or cannot afford the medical treatment.

"The ones we're operating on, we hope will just have one operation and need no further surgery, and if all goes well, we know from years gone by that we would expect them to live into adult life and have children of their own."

Dr John Wright says because it's the first time they're operating on children, they have kept the number small.