6KOTA KINABALU: Four patients suffering from hole-in-the-heart, a congenital heart disease, made their way to South Korea to undergo corrective heart surgery yesterday.
The patients comprised of Mohd Isran Jamaluddin, 14, Shafira Selamat, 3, Siti Amira Othman, 8, and Vallis Valentino Francis James, 1. They were each accompanied by a parent on the journey that would change their life forever.
The surgery cost will be borne by the Korean Food for the Hungry International and the Bucheon Sejong Hospital, while the cost for the airfare, travelling allowance and passport fees will be paid by the Society for the Sabah Heart Fund (SOSHF).
According to SOSHF honorary secretary, Eva Susau prior to sending off the patients and their accompanying parent to the airport yesterday that the group heading to South Korea was their second group this year.
“We sent eight patients earlier, and four today…since 2007, we have already sent 108 patients to undergo corrective heart surgery to South Korea,” she said last night.
She said that the assistance from the South Korean non government organisations (NGOs) has helped the Women and Children Hospital (Likas Hospital) to clear their backlog of young patients needing to undergo corrective heart surgery.
“This has been acknowledged by the hospital itself,” she said.
She felt indebted to the NGOs from South Korea for their assistance and said that they have helped a lot.
She added that the cost of corrective heart surgery in Kuala Lumpur was around RM35,000 presently and that was for non-complicated cases.
“We have had cases where we had to fork out more than RM70,000 per patient,” she said. Since their inception, they have already sent 592 patients to undergo corrective heart surgery. Most of the patients selected by SOSHF are those coming from poor families and those residing in the rural parts of Sabah.
The latest four patients who went to South Korea yesterday were expected home by Oct 27.
Meanwhile, Jovinia Emi, 42, who was accompanying her son Vallis for the trip said that they travelled all the way from Kampung Tudan, Ranau, yesterday.
“My sibling sent us here. My husband stayed home,” said Jovinia who has 11 children altogether.
She felt happy yet nervous at the same time, stating that she knew the cost of surgery was beyond her means and she felt lucky that her son was selected to undergo the treatment so soon.
“I realise that there was something wrong when he was born. His breathing was fast, and when I nursed him, he sweated profusely. So when I brought him for his first check-up, I brought these matters up to their attention and they found him showing some signs of heart ailment,” she said.
The second youngest patient, Shafira, was very active and was smiling at everyone who smiled at her. Her mother, Siti Sulimah Abdul Gayor, accompanied her for the trip.
Her father, Selamat Omar, who was present to send the family off said that Shafira was their fifth child and that they knew she suffered from hole-in-the-heart when she was merely a month old.
“We’re very happy she is getting the treatment. We’re nervous at the same time, but of course, very grateful,” he said.
Eight-years-old Siti Amira from Labuan meanwhile mentioned that it was the first time she was going aboard an aeroplane and wasn’t keen on it.
“I am afraid,” she told the Borneo Post.
Her mom, Hayati Sambas, said they drove all the way from Labuan since yesterday morning.
“If you look at her, you wouldn’t suspect that she has congenital heart disease. She is so active, always climbing trees and playing,” she said.
Hayati mentioned that she first found out of her daughter’s ailment when the latter suffered from cough.
The oldest patient, Mohd Isran, hailed from Sandakan and was accompanied by his father, Jamaluddin Langga.
The Form Two student from SMK Tinusa expressed his nervousness to travel to South Korea to undergo the corrective heart surgery.
“I am scared. It is very difficult to describe the feeling. A bit worried,” he said.
South Korean bound..(seated, left to right) Siti Amira, Vallis and his mom, Jovinia, Shafira and her mom, Siti Sulimah, and Mohd Isran. Also in the picture are Eva (standing, 2nd from right), Jamaluddin (standing, right), Hayati (standing, 2nd from left) and Simon Lee (left).
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