By: Julius Konton
Hundreds of Liberians including children and adults here in Liberia are expected to massively benefit from a major health initiative soon to be provided by a group styled and named as Rescue Children’s Heart Liberia with a National Fund Drive will be launched in the Country on December 8, 2022.
As a means of creating awareness about the initiative, the program will begin with a parade from the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Sinkor and climax at the Monrovia City Hall where the indoor program will take place.
The focus amongst other things is to construct a modern cardiac surgery unit in Liberia with key priorities on children and adults mainly on saving lives.
The foundation according to the founder and vision bearer Dr. Jonathan Hart is committed to the development of continuous and sustainable cardiac surgery in Liberia while at the same time serving as a bridge between parents and their children and the transition to a more comfortable lifestyle following the diagnosis of heart disease.
He said their core values are embedded in the delivery of justice and equity in heartcare delivery for children and adults living with heart disease within the health sector through collaborative efforts with partners and institutions who share similar values.
“Over the last year, we have been working with partners in India (EuphoriaCare and others) to have our patients receive treatment at a lesser cost (undertaken by the families of the patients) and have been successful in bringing smiles on the faces of ten families following successful surgeries both of the heart and the esophagus”, he noted.
Dr. Hart pointed out that amongst these numbers, eight of their patients were children while two were adult of age 32 years and 21 years.
As part of their initiative, The Liberian surgeon explained that four children had heart defects (ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect and atrioventricular septal defects), two had tetralogy of fallot (TOF), and another two had patent ductal arteriosus (PDA). Among the adults, one patient had esophageal stricture due to caustic chemical ingestion while the other had left ventricular aneurysm and has just been discharged from Manipal Hospital in New Dahil and reunited with her family in Ghana en route to Liberia.
“In 2021, we sponsored a USD7,000.00 research project to evaluate the patterns and prevalence of pediatric cardiac disease amongst the children of Liberia”, he said.
Moreover, he furthered that they are working on a ‘Free Thoracic Surgery Mission for 2023 to be able to treat about 40 children and adults with disease of the chest and heart.
“Consequently, we have brought in 100 pieces of three-chamber underwater seal drainage system (chest tube drainage system) and other materials for said project stating that they are also working king in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Medical Center with support from the Ministry of Health on a thirty-two-month project to establish a cardiac surgery unit at the JFK medical center and have projected May of 2025 as the month in which the first OPEN HEART SURGERY will be conducted in Liberia”, he narrated.
The foundation Dr. Hart stressed intends to work with potential partners to ensure that their patients and their families have an adequate environment for pre surgery counselling and post-surgery rehabilitation so as to have a smooth integration back into normal activities.
” We are also working with other heart centers in Ethiopia, Ghana, India and the United States of America to ensure that our unit remains functional through its lifespan and for the referral of complex cases for safe surgery abroad”, he indicated.
With its over 23 committed volunteers and other professionals, the brain of the foundation was also quick to appeal for external sponsorship or support to enable it carry out its day-to-day functions.
Rescue Children’s Heart Foundation (RCHF) was founded on October 8, 2020 by its visionary founder and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jonathan Minagogo Hart.
Driven by passion and the desire to work with children and the vulnerable, Dr. Hart decided to take a step further in helping children born/living with heart disease.
The description ‘RESCUE’ was chosen to reflect the traumatic and abusive life the founder experienced during his early childhood life as a street child while he sought to be rescued from the street.
Dr. Hart early childhood life’s experience is one of the most terrible and traumatic events experienced by children during the Liberian civil war.
It was on that horrible afternoon of October 8, 1990, in broad day light, on the street of Tubmanburg in Bomi County where he stood few meters away and witnessed his parents being slaughtered as animals and had to be rescued by a stranger and taken into exile for the safety of his life.
He believes that every child has the right to live and no one’s life should be brought to an unexpected end by any means, and as such the heart, which is the center of life and are diseased in these children, needed to be cared for so as to give them reasons given a second chance by a stranger.