Saturday, February 16, 2013

Free Heart Surgeries for 50 Filipino Children via Save the Little Hearts Foundation

This month of hearts, help make a difference by raising awareness about congenital heart defect (CHD). If you're on Facebook, make sure you like the Save the Little Hearts (STLH) page to help save lives. DM Healthcare will donate P100 for every like which will go to free cardiac surgery of a child with CHD.

Dubbed "1LIKE, 1HEART TO SAVE", the campaign aims not only to raise funds for free heart surgeries for kids but also to make the public more aware of the serious condition that is estimated to affect 8 or 9 newborns per 1000 births.

Dr. Sanjiv Malik, Board of Trustee of the foundation and CEO for Hospitals and Medical Centers Divison of DM Healthcare LLC, shares that through this campaign, they are hoping to accomplish two things simultaneously: "First, to raise funds for the Filipino kids with CHD and to educate the public that CHD is threatening thousands of Filipino infants every year."

"As Facebook users, we like photos and other posts every day. We take it for granted and it's already a routine. Now, why not make that simple act of liking on FB a life-saving activity?" asks Joyce Socao-Alumno, Country Representative of DM Healthcare Foundation in the Philippines who initiated the viral campaign for the program. "In that way, what is routine becomes a vital and meaningful action."

Asked why they put the campaign on Facebook and not just offer free surgeries for the kids, Alumno explains that more than just raising funds, they want to generate social engagement that will, hopefully, spark the public's interest in the issue of CHD in infants.

"That's why we encourage those who like our page to also read through the information and other photos provided there, so they will have an idea how valuable their contribution is to the lives of children with CHD. As more and more people know about [this condition], we will hopefully bring our message across and encourage others to help children with CHD as well," she continues. "We are aiming to raise at least a million pesos for these pediatric CHD patients by February 2013 as a Valentine treat for the children. So we are encouraging FB users to keep liking to STHL FB page."

If you've already liked the STLH page, feel free to use the photo badge that says, "I Saved a Little Heart" as recognition for your contribution to the free surgeries for kids with CHD. Post the badge on your wall, as part of an FB photo album, or pasted onto your profile picture.

According to a study done by the Department of Cardiology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, about 1.35 million babies were born with CHD in the past 15 years. That is a staggering number!

Another estimate states that around 100,000 babies die every year from complications related to CHD, within their first year of life. Among the many birth defects in newborns, CHD is said to be the number one case of infant deaths.

In the Philippines, the exact number of Filipino newborns with CHD is unknown due to lack of proper tracking. According to the Philippine Heart Center though, the hospital has attended to about 8,710 cases of infant CHD in 2011. Among these children, only 468 were able to undergo surgery.

"We cannot properly address infant CHD cases nationwide if we don't have the proper data about the number of newborn CHD cases per year," points out Dr. Malik. "More research and record-keeping are needed. When we have the data, only then can we identify the risk factors causing CHD among Filipino infants, and then formulate strategies to prevent or treat these patients."

For the past 25 years, DM Foundation has been providing healthcare education programs as well as basic and advanced healthcare services to the less fortunate in India as well as Middle East countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The organization was founded by Padma Shri Dr. Azad Moopen.

On its 25th anniversary, DM Foundation is opening its headquarters in the Philippines in order to expand the reach of its charitable and philanthropic work to Filipinos in urgent need of healthcare services but are unable to do so due to poverty and other difficulties.

In an event held last February 13 at Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Dr. Moopen handed over a Certificate of Donation to the Board of Trustees of DM Healthcare Philippines. The amount is estimated to cost more than P5M which is over and above the equivalent 10,000 likes on the STLH Facebook campaign and will be used for the surgeries of 50 Filipino children.

Dr. Moopen expressed gratitude to Philippine authorities who supported the launching of the program. "Pediatric cardiology is a critical area of medical care. We are glad that, through this initiative, we would be able to extend this care to those who need it." He revealed that STLH is the first of other charity initiatives in the Philippines. "We plan to extend our not-for-profit activities here with a large gamut of services aiming to promote overall wellness in the Philippines. Our aim for our charitable foundation, Healing Touch, is to truly take it beyond boundaries and reach needy people across geographies."

As of this writing two patients were already successfully treated for CHD at the Philippine General Hospital with several other patients selected and approved for DM Healthcare's underwriting of the cardiac surgery.

With the goal to deliver "Care Beyond Boundaries", DM Foundation will continue its ongoing initiatives in the Philippines with adult and pediatric cardiac and other surgical programs, setting up of standalone dialysis centers, and early diseases detection centers as well as cancer screening programs, mobile clinics, village adoption programs, CSR programs, health awareness programs, and general intervention in healthcare activities. 

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