Tibetan children get free heart treatment

Updated: 2012-01-31 09:42

By He Dan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - It was 3 pm on Monday when Pedmayangchen, from Xigaze prefecture, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, left her hospital bed and took a walk with a healthy heart for the first time.

For this memorable moment, she asked her mother to carefully comb her hair and put a red carnation on her head for decoration.

"I called my father, who was waiting at home last night and told him not to worry about me, because the surgery was fine, and then both of us cried," the girl said with a big smile on her tanned face.

Four days ago, a medical team from the Beijing-based General Hospital of the Armed Police Force sent the 11-year-old girl and 18 other Tibetan children with congenital heart disease to the capital for free medical treatment. The girl was diagnosed with heart problems during infancy, her mother told China Daily on Monday, adding that she caught colds and felt fatigued easily.

However, Pedmayangchen was not able to receive an operation due to her family's economic plight and poor transportation conditions linking her hometown to the outside world, said Meng Rongying, a cardiologist from the hospital.

Meng and her colleagues traveled to remote villages in Tibet three times since December, where they offered free congenital heart disease screening for more than 4,600 children from poor families and took those in need of surgery to Beijing.

Nine children have received operations using minimally invasive approaches as of Monday, and the rest, whose conditions are more complicated, will undergo more comprehensive health checks before surgery, Meng said.

"Patients suffering from congenital heart disease can resume a normal and healthy life if it is operated on in a timely fashion, otherwise, this disease can cause long-lasting pain for both individual patients and their families," said Zheng Jingchen, chief of the hospital.

The China Charity Federation, a public foundation in Beijing, which has been running a health project called Xinlei, will pay these children's medical expenses and transportation fees.

"To date, we have helped more than 460 children from less-developed regions nationwide recover from congenital heart disease after surgery," said Sheng Chunlan, a publicity official from the charity.

Sheng said two companies had each donated 1 million yuan ($157,900) to sponsor children with heart problems in Tibet to receive medical treatment in Beijing.