Nabadat team conducts free heart surgeries in Mumbai. Image Credit: Dubai Health Authority

Dubai: More than 100 Indian children will receive free heart surgeries in Mumbai performed by a Dubai Health Authority (DHA) team as part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

Nabadat, which means ‘heartbeat’ in Arabic, is an initiative launched by the Mohammad Bin Rashid Charity and Humanitarian Establishment (MBRCHE) in collaboration with DHA. It provides free medical assistance, surgery and post-surgical care to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for treatment of congenital heart diseases.

The Nabadat team consists of cardiac surgeons, cardiac anesthetists, intensivists, perfusionists, nurses and technicians.

During the seven-day initiative that began on July 7, more than 100 children — newborns to 14-year-olds — will receive free surgery and treatment for congenital heart ailments as part of the Nabadat Initiative.

So far, the team has successfully performed 51 procedures (32 open-heart surgeries and 19 catherisations) at Fortis Hospital, Mulund and at S.L. Raheja, a Fortis Associate Hospital in Mumbai.

Additionally, the team will also conduct free paediatric cardiac check-ups to screen as many children as possible.

Humaid Al Qutami, director-general of DHA, said: “The Nabadat initiative is one of the many humanitarian initiatives undertaken by the UAE globally. Children are the future and this initiative helps provide them with an opportunity to lead a normal healthy life.”

Ebrahim Bu Melha, deputy chairman of MBRCHE’s board of trustees, said the organisation covers the complete cost of care and provides logistical support to the medical team.

Saleh Al Tunaiji, UAE consul-general in Mumbai, praised the humanitarian initiative and visited the children who underwent surgery and met with the medical team.

Dr Obaid Al Jasem, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Dubai Hospital, said some cases are complicated as the children have more than one congenital disease and require multiple treatment.

He said several families with financial difficulties travelled more than 1,200km to reach Mumbai and receive treatment for their children.

“Many of the cases were ventricular septal defect (VSD), which is a hole between the two pumping chambers of the heart (ventricles). Normally such cases are not complicated; however, since many of the children had long-standing untreated congenital disease the cases were more complex than usual,” Dr Al Jasem said.

He added that a lack of awareness, financial resources and access to medical facilities remains a major issue globally.

Dr Al Jasem added that congenital heart disease (CHD) is a common type of birth defect that refers to malformations of heart structure existing at birth. It is estimated that eight to 10 babies in every 100,000 suffer from CHD. There are more than 30 types of CHD, with three main categories — septal defects (hole in the heart), obstruction defects (partial or total blockage of the flow of blood) and cyanotic (defects that leads to a lack of oxygen being pumped).