Adventist Heart Fund
Did you know that more than 50% of all children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime? Unfortunately, for those from underprivileged families, these much-needed surgeries are often out of reach for them financially, or require an extensive wait at the city’s public hospitals.
The Adventist Heart Fund was established to provide surgery and treatment to underprivileged children and young adults suffering from CHD, which often leads to respiratory problems and other medical conditions that significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. With timely medical treatment however, most children born with CHD today will survive and be able to lead normal or near-normal lives free from disease. Thanks to the support of dedicated physicians and generous donors, we have funded over 300 CHD surgeries for underprivileged children over the years and we would like to share two of our most recent cases with you here:
Li Pei Liang
Born with a slew of congenital defects including tetralogy of Fallot (a combination of four heart defects), a large ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart), congenital cataract, and other congenital disorders, Li Pei Liang grew up in China never having experienced life as a healthy child. Due to his condition, he was unable to walk more than two or three steps and was therefore unable to attend school. His fingernails, lips, and nose also suffered from discoloration as a result of his congenital diseases.
Unfortunately, the surgeries that Pei Liang badly needed were not an option for his family, who merely relies on the Chinese Government’s minimum subsistence guarantee system, Pei Liang’s disability allowance, and support from friends to survive day-to-day. What’s more, Pei Liang’s mother also suffers from kidney disease and requires long-term medication and regular medical attention. She had made a living selling goods at a street stall until 2017, when she suffered a heart attack and her condition deteriorated, making it impossible for her to continue working regularly. On days when she is feeling well enough, she works at a local factory to earn some income. Pei Liang’s father is a minibus driver who abandoned his family due to the poor health of his wife and son. He does not support the family and has another family outside.
In 2006, Mr Man, a volunteer from Hong Kong, made a trip to China with a group of fellow volunteers to visit the poor. During the trip, the group met Pei Liang and his family and learned about his condition and needs. At the time, Pei Liang urgently needed to undergo cataract surgery, but doctors were concerned that the general anesthesia would overburden his heart. Mr Man introduced the family to Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation’s Heart Fund to see how the organization would be able to help then seven-year-old Pei Liang.
In 2007, the Heart Fund set aside over HK$200K for Pei Liang to undergo open-heart surgery. Through the support of other charitable organizations, he was also able to receive cataract surgery that same year. By 2009, Pei Liang was well enough to return to school and has continued his studies since then. He is currently a Form 1 student in secondary school.
Since his surgeries 12 years ago, Pei Liang has regularly returned to Hong Kong for medical checkups, all of which are funded by Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation. A checkup performed towards the end of 2017 revealed that he was suffering from branch pulmonary artery stenosis and right ventricular dysfunction. Foundation arranged for him to undergo cardiac catheterization which cost around HK$100K in July to further examine his condition and is currently determining an appropriate course of treatment going forwards.
Wong On Na
25-year-old Wong On Na was born at Queen Elizabeth Hospital with a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart). Though the defect eventually closed on its own, On Na still required regular monitoring through follow-up visits at the hospital every six months. Her condition, which was coupled with mild mental retardation, meant that she needed constant care and attention from her mother, a single parent who was also taking care of On Na’s younger sister. Unable to find time to work, On Na’s mother relied only on the government’s Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme to provide for the family.
When On Na was 15 years old, doctors discovered that she had anomalous origin of the right coronary artery from the main pulmonary artery – a rare and complex congenital anomaly that requires surgery to correct. Queen Elizabeth Hospital was unable to find a public hospital willing to perform the surgery for On Na – her extremely rare condition meant that the surgery had never been performed before, and doctors were concerned because of the high risk of sudden death associated with the surgery. What’s more, since her condition did not present significant symptoms and only limited her ability to exercise, public hospitals did not consider her surgery essential.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital eventually referred On Na to Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation’s Heart Fund, which was able to provide HK$250,000 for her to undergo open-heart surgery in January 2018. Following her successful operation, On Na is happy to report that she is now able to participate in light exercise, slow jogging, and active in searching for simple work. This life-transforming surgery has relieved much of her mother’s burden, and has given On Na new purpose and meaning in life.
Thank you for your support of Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and the Heart Fund. We hope that these stories have further brought our mission to life and that you will consider donating to the Heart Fund so that more underprivileged children with CHD are able to receive the surgeries they need and go on to live healthy and happy lives.