KOTA KINABALU: Eight children between two to six years old will be undergoing corrective heart surgery in South Korea within the next few days.
They are Aleeya Alesha Amir, 2, Mohd Farish Adly, 3, Mohd Nazri Otto, 3, Clive Lim, 4, Mohd Husaini Hashim, 4, Ellisa Eve Edy, 6, Muhd Kayrul Makdam, 6, and Khairunnisa Izati, 6.
According to the Society for the Sabah Heart Fund (SOSHF) honorary secretary, Eva Susau, when sending off the children and their accompanying parents at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Sunday night, the sponsorships for the patients who were part of the ‘Mending Heart’ project were provided by the Community Development and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Seong-An Heart Foundation.
The project is a joint collaboration between the SOSHF and the Likas Women and Children Hospital, the Korean Food for the Hungry International (Korea) and the Social Welfare and Consumer Affairs Ministry.
Eva expressed her gratitude to all those involved in the project and particularly to the sponsors who have helped to materialise the noble initiative.
“A lot of people had been helped over the years due to the assistance of those involved,” she said before the group’s departure.
She also said that the cost of undergoing corrective heart surgery was expensive and would be a burden for patients in the low income group.
“For a simple case, the corrective heart surgery in Malaysia is from RM35,000 to RM45,000. However, intricate surgeries will incur higher cost,” she said.
Eva added that the Community Development and Consumer Affairs Ministry provided a grant of RM50,000 for the South Korea-bound patients and a total of RM37,809.15 had been spent to purchase the air tickets (for the patients and one accompanying parent), pay for their passports and for their pocket money while abroad. Altogether, the State Government has provided RM300,000 which is inclusive of the RM50,000, to help patients suffering from hole in the heart to undergo corrective heart surgery this year.
“The amount is not enough as we would like to help more. We are hoping that members of the public and corporate communities will also come forward and offer a helping hand,” she said.
In addition to South Korea, SOSHF also has patients undergoing corrective heart surgery in Peninsular Malaysia.
Another nine patients will be leaving for South Korea to undergo corrective heart surgery later this year.
“SOSHF is pleased to inform that a total of 123 children have benefitted from the programme with the Korean NGOs which began 10 years ago in the year 2007,” said Eva.
Mudna Maulana, 33, who is accompanying her son, Mohd Nazri Otto, said that they travelled over 10 hours by bus to get to the city two days earlier.
“We are from Kampung Lok Malalum at Pulau Bum-Bum which is five minutes’ boat ride away from Semporna,” she said.
“My son was diagnosed with hole in the heart when he was younger. He was often sick at that time.”
She added that Mohd Nazri’s nails would sometimes become blue, especially during cold weather.
Mudna was grateful that her son was selected to undergo the trip, and expressed that she experienced a mixture of happiness, sadness and fear.
“But I asked around from other people whose children have the same ailment and they gave positive reviews. That calmed me a bit and I am hoping for the best,” she said.
Mohd Ridzwan Syah, 33, was accompanying his three-year-old son, Mohd Farish Adly, to South Korea.
“He tires easily these days. I was told by the doctor that he needed to undergo corrective heart surgery before he reaches six years old,” he said.
Mohd Ridzwan added that he found the cost of corrective heart surgery quite steep and he could not afford it.
“When I heard about this project, I applied for it immediately. After more than a year of waiting, we are finally going for the surgery,” he said.
Also present at KKIA were representative from the Korean Food for the Hungry International, Simon Lee and Sabah Social Services Council executive officer, Joanne Lee.