Essa Al Haj Al Maidour, second left, director-general of Dubai Health Authority, Ebrahim Bu Melha, right, chairman of the board of trustees of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Establishment, with father of a baby who had heart surgery as part of the Nabadat scheme. Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf News

Dubai: The Nabadat initiative recorded the highest number of complex surgeries performed on children with congenital heart disease (CHD) in January.

Of the 25 young patients who were treated through the month, 10 cases involved a high level of complexity given the age of the children and the severity of their condition, according to the team of cardiologists from Rashid, Dubai and Latifa Hospitals in Dubai, besides their counterparts from San Donato Hospital, Italy.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) felicitated the team on the success of the surgeries in a ceremony on Sunday.

The Nabadat (meaning heartbeats in Arabic) initiative provides free surgeries for children — Emiratis and expatriates with congenital heart disease. It was launched in 2007 by the DHA and the Mohammad Bin Rashid Charity and Humanitarian Establishment.

Till date, more than 300 children have been treated thanks to the initiative. The recent surgeries mark the 11th workshop held as part of the initiative. Each surgery costs approximately Dh100,000 and upwards. More than 40 cases were evaluated for the January surgery workshop.

According to medical literature, 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).

Dr Obaid Al Jasem, cardiac surgeon and Head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Dubai Hospital, said that some of the surgeries were complex because patients had to be treated for multiple defects.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Ahmad Mohammad Al Kamali, consultant paediatric cardiologist and Head of the Paediatric Department at Dubai Hospital explained, “For the first time, we performed two surgeries for coronary artery fistula [abnormal connection between one of the coronary arteries and a heart chamber or another blood vessel].”

The paediatric cardiac surgeons from the San Donato Hospital told Gulf News that the collaboration is about sharing expertise for a humanitarian cause. One of them, Dr Alessandro Giamberti, said: “I have been visiting since 2010. We have increased the complexity of the procedures over the years. For example we did an open heart surgery on a three-kilogram premature baby.”

Dr Abdullah Raweh said: “We are thrilled to have been able to handle the highest number of complex cases so far.”

Of the initiative, Ebrahim Bu Melha, chairman of the board of trustees of the Charity and Humanitarian Establishment, said that the suffering of the children and their families will be alleviated. Engineer Eisa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA, added that the initiative hopes to extend help both locally and internationally.

The Italian team visits the Dubai Hospital for the free surgery workshop thrice a year. The next workshop under the initiative will take place in June. Those interested can contact Dubai Hospital on 04 219 5000.