Hope for the heart

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German pediatric cardiologist Jascha Kehr at the Sai Sanjeevani Children’s hospital. Picture: ATU RASEA

German pediatric cardiologist, Jascha Kehr, is a hopeful man. His optimism stems from being part of the incredible team involved in recent successful heart surgeries conducted at the Sai Sanjeevani Children’s hospital.

Rather than just making referrals for children, a job he is used to, his recent involvement with surgery has also helped him touch base with the realties of child health care in the islands.

“It is fantastic because everything has gone full circle,” he said.

“I have been on several ends of that spectrum of just referring children and then leaving everything in the hands of the rest of the team,” he said.

Dr Kehr recalled how he assisted a patient from the Solomon Islands to get medical assistance and how this led to a renewed lease of life.

“I saw a lot of the children who came here from the Solomon Islands.

“Being part of their hospital journey and then seeing them the day before they fly back to the Solomon’s is fantastic.”

While he found the work done to restore good health to children rewarding, he was also acutely aware of some of the challenges faced.

“For me, the challenges are mainly around not being able to offer procedures to everyone, and sometimes having to say no because things could be too complicated or too difficult and you cannot always do everything. You have to be careful with the operations you do.”

He said the surgeries they performed did not just offer hope but provided a stable and secure future for children with heart conditions.

“Offering hope is great but then if the result is not what you are hoping, then that is not good enough,” he said.

“ So we are really striving to provide excellent care, where the outcomes for the children are fantastic and help them live a normal life afterwards. Time constraints, the pain of not being able to help every patient and not knowing whether the child may survive long enough until the next

mission arrived were realities Dr Kehr has to contend with.

“Having to sometime say one has to wait until the next operation, not knowing if that is going to work out or not, that is the challenge.”

However, he hopes that the hospital would soon be able to operate throughout the year.

“I am hopeful that one day this center will be operational all year around with a local surgeon maybe or surgeons that come more frequently to be able to offer slightly more complicated surgeries and care.”

Dr Kehr said he would love to return to Fiji to assist with more missions. He currently works at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia.

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