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Savers of Little Hearts

According to the World Heart Federation (WHF), 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases each year. This is one third of all deaths globally. At the same time, 80 % of lethal outcomes happen in low and middle level countries, including Ukraine.

This disease is of no age. A lot of kids are born with cardiovascular diseases or acquire them at the early age. Over the last ten years, in Ukraine the prevalence rate of heart diseases occurring in childhood and adolescence has more than doubled, in particular, it has increased by 2.2 times among children under 14 years old and by 2.3 times among teenagers aged 15-17. Scientific forecasts show that, before 2050, the number of cardiovascular pathologies may grow by 5-6 times.

We all are aware of the fact that a person’s health depends, in the first place, on their lifestyle, environmental conditions, social and economic factors. However, if a person is already ill, only a qualified doctor can really help.

The most prominent health facility in Ukraine specialized in the provision of medical care to children with congenital and acquired heart and vascular defects, is Applied Research Medical Centre of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery under the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

The medical centre was established in 2003 in pursuance of the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine No. 631-IV of 6 March 2003 “On Founding and Equipping a Centre for Cardiac Surgery in New-Born Children in Ukraine”. Since that time, the centre has been performing diagnostics, pharmaceutical treatment and surgical correction of congenital cardiac and vascular defects in children. This facility is the only highly specialized healthcare institution in Ukraine that deals with correction of the most complicated congenital heart diseases in children within their first hours. All medical care and surgeries are provided free of charge to Ukrainian kids.

The centre’s two buildings allocate 250 beds (178 ward beds, 72 intensive care beds), the outpatient department, the medical admission unit, 6 cardiac surgery operating rooms and 3 operating rooms for cardiovascular surgeries and procedures, the powerful radiology department, rehabilitation department, laboratory, blood bank, research departments, the Paediatric Cardiology Academic Department, and other auxiliary medical and supply departments.

Applied Research Medical Centre of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery annually provides more than 2,800 various operations, including SENNING, ARTERIAL SWITCH, ROSS, AV communications, plastic surgeries on heart valves in older children without the use of synthetic materials, etc. The centre’s experts counsel and render organizational and methodological assistance to Ukrainian healthcare institutions with regard to the issues of paediatric cardiac surgery, provision of counselling and diagnostics services, cardiac surgery, and rehabilitation care to little patients, as well as they develop and endorse innovative medical technologies, new types of surgeries and diagnostics techniques. For example, the lifesaving program COR-D for newborns with congenital heart defects, applicable within their first hours, has become a recovery tool for many babies worldwide. The medical centre, with the use of telehealth systems, actively integrates Ukrainian medicine into the international medical community. The facility’s medical staff has extensive experience in pre- and post-surgery intensive care of newborns.

In 2015, the cardiology centre provided counselling services to 28,391 patients, admitted 4,243 for treatment, performed 2,803 operations, with 1,817 out of them being surgical ones, including 1,390 operations employing extracorporeal circulation. The centre’s operative mortality rate makes up 0.89 %, compared to 3-4 % experienced by the best West-European and American hospitals.

Alongside medical care of children, the centre also gives treatment to grown-up patients diagnosed with congenital heart defects already at the adult stage or operated on heart in childhood. For helping this kind of patients, the centre has opened the Adult Clinical Unit at its own premises. This has allowed to set up the centre’s new structural units: the department of congenital and acquired heart defects in teenagers and adults; the department of myocardial pathology and reconstructive cardiac surgery, with an intensive care unit; the emergency care unit for cardiovascular diseases; and the rehabilitation department. Additionally, the only Ukrainian Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Department of Shupyk National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education has been founded in the centre.

Success and worldwide recognition enjoyed by Applied Research Medical Centre have been reached through fruitful contributions of the medical staff and, above all, the institution’s management.

Applied Research Medical Centre is headed by Illya Yemets, Director, cardiac surgeon, Doctor of Medicine, Honoured Doctor of Ukraine, professor at the Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Department of Shupyk National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education, Council Member of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS), laureate of the national “Pride of the Country” prize in the category “Breakthrough of the Year” for the globally significant invention in cardiac surgery (2010), Full Cavalier of the Order of Merit, author of more than 250 research papers in the domain of cardiac surgery. Mr. Yemets has medical practice not only in Ukrainian healthcare institutions, but also in medical centres in Australia, Canada and France. From December 2010 to May 2011, he held the office of the Health Minister of Ukraine.

Illya Yemets has been the first surgeon in Ukraine and throughout the post-Soviet area to successfully operate new-borns having complex heart defects, put to practice plastic surgeries on heart valves in young children (without the use of artificial materials). This prominent doctor has introduced the world’s first surgical treatment of prenatally diagnosed complex congenital heart defects in new-borns within their first hours, using autologous umbilical cord blood instead of donor blood. He has founded the Neonatal Cardiac Surgery School in Ukraine.

Head Doctor of Applied Research Medical Centre is Volodymyr Zhovnir, Doctor of Medicine, Honoured Doctor of Ukraine, chief freelance specialist of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine for paediatric anaesthesiology and intensive care.

Academic interests of Mr. Zhovnir lie in such areas as bloodless surgery in children with congenital heart defects, pulmonary hypertension, stem cells, nanotechnologies, innovative treatment methods and medicines related to intensive care. Beyond this, Volodymyr Zhovnir is a socially proactive person. He participates in organizing and conducting charity campaigns, partner programs, social and educational projects aimed to enhance treatment of children suffering from congenital heart defects.

Well aware of how important the centre’s activities are for saving lives and treating children with congenital and acquired cardiac and vascular defects, as well as how necessary it is for this purpose to extend the facility’s applied research base and enhance powerful treatment capabilities, United World Cultures Foundation (UWCF) has launched the program “HEART OF GOLD” aiming to render charitable aid to the centre, provide medical equipment, and improve the psychological condition of ill children.

As a part of the program, we have already implemented several large-scale projects, such as the Grand Children’s Evenings and the Grand French Evenings “Cabaret de Charite” with Oleg Skrypka, the charitable Salsa Marathon “Breath of Life”. With the UWCF’s support, such conferences have taken place as the V Anniversary International Research and Practice Conference “Current Issues in Paediatric Anaesthesiology” in the Bukovel ski resort and the VII All-Ukrainian Nursing Congress “Nurses as a Driving Force for Changes in the Provision of Efficient and Cost-Effective Medical Care” in Kyiv. UWCF has also contributed to organizing the annual “Chestnut Run”. The centre’s little patients together with their parents are regularly invited to performances, concerts and master classes organized by UWCF.

Charity foundation UWCF calls on all those who care to join the implementation of our projects and make your own contribution to the health and good mood of little patients of Applied Research Medical Centre of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery.