The European Heart for Children, a humanitarian initiative launched at ESC Congress 2009, will organise medical missions to countries where care for congenital heart disease is suboptimal to demonstrate to the medical and political community that it is possible to treat children with congenital heart disease. The initiative will then encourage local doctors and allied professional to take advantage of the ad hoc ESC training programme to be educated in the task of treating congenital heart disease, with the intention of ultimately helping countries to establish their own units for treatment of congenital heart disease.
The initiative has been launched in recognition of the knowledge that access to appropriate care for children born with congenital heart disease is not the same in all the 52 countries (located in Europe and around the Mediterranean) whose cardiac national societies are members of the ESC. While the majority of ESC national cardiac societies offer adequate treatment for congenital heart disease, (defined as a mean ratio of 1,000 or more operations per 1,000,000 inhabitants) there are countries offering under 100 operations per 1,000,000 inhabitants. The project has been initiated by wives and partners of the current ESC Board members with the full endorsement of the Board.
“To me it's completely shocking to see first-hand that in some countries represented by the ESC the only hope for a child born with congenital heart disease is to go to another country for an operation otherwise they'll die. We hope that our initiative will give some hope to the children of Europe,” says Roberto Ferrari, the President of the ESC, pictured here.
Initially the idea came from Claudia Florio Ferrari. “When children with congenital heart disease are operated on successfully they go on to lead completely normal lives,” says Mrs Ferrari, a professional film maker, who presented a short video of a recent mission she undertook to Damascus, Syria, with Bambini Cardiopatici nel Mondo, the Italian aid organisation involved in humanitarian actions. In two days, the team of doctors reviewed the cases of 52 children, operated on six children and referred three for specialist treatment in Italy. “Nothing can describe the joy of a mother who gives up a blue child to an operation and gets back a pink one,” says Mrs Ferrari.
European Heart for Children at ESC Congress 2009
Fund raising events for European Heart for Children at ESC Congress 2009 include a sold-out humanitarian dinner on Sunday 30 August, piggy banks dispersed around the exhibition for donations, a lottery and fund raising merchandise (such as ties, tee shirts and beach towels) being sold at a special booth (M13B, Membership Zone) manned by the Board members partners.
A presentation of the project will be given by Claudia Florio Ferrari at the Opening Ceremony on Saturday 29 August at 16:00 hours in Barcelona Room, including extracts from the recent Syrian mission film. The full version of the film will be showing on that same booth.
The distinctive European Heart for Children logo was designed by the late Sir Alan Fetcher who notoriously said “Design is not a thing you do. It's a way of life" and who contributed tremendously to London’s design industry.