List of waiting heart patients long because of lacking doctors, equipment

Though hospitals in the country have tried to increase personnel and applied advanced technologies to meet the demand, they are overloaded with patients waiting for a heart surgery. Children suffering congenital heart diseases even died while waiting for an operation.
Director of Children Hospital No.1 in HCM City Dr. Nguyen Thanh Hung said that from 2004 when the hospital started heart operation, the hospital has so far performed over 3,000 surgeries including 645 cases of serous congenital heart problems and 125 neonates, however, a long line of patients were waiting for their operation with over 1,300 children.
Dr. Hung said that many of them waited for months and years, he added.
Head of the hospital’s Cardiovascular Department Dr. Vu Minh Phuc said that medical workers lamented when realizing that some of children in the list had not come to the hospital for next examination because they know that these children succumb to the disease.
The hospital is able to perform 5 to 7 heart operations including 2 or 3 serous cases every week so it can not satisfy the increased demand.
Similarly, director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Children Hospital No.2 Dr. Ha Manh Tuan said that surgeons conduct 6 to 8 minimally invasive heart surgeries per week and 2 or 3 open heart surgeries per week while the list of waiting patients is very long.
It has seen the overload at the Heart Institute with a long list of waiting children and adults. Thousands of people in the list wait for an operation every year.
In reality, medical clinics are limited in carrying out a heart surgery; worse, just a few of them are able to undertake heart operation for children. In the South Vietnam, 8 medical facilities can be able to perform a heart operation while only the Heart Institute, Children Hospitals No.1 and 2 are able to carry out operation on children.
Medical workers said that application of advanced technologies in heart operations just helps reducing the mortality rate not reducing overloading. For instance, there are 1,300 cases in the Children Hospital No.1’s long list of waiting patients, a patient must wait at least 2 years for their turn and many of them succumb to the disease while waiting.
The Heart Institute opened the Technique Department after 2 year upgrading. With 4 surgery rooms and an intensive care unit, two rooms for minimally invasive heart surgeries and 10 beds for those who undergo minimally invasive heart surgeries. The new Technique Department is expected to reduce the waiting patients and it will transfer technologies to other clinics.
Currently, the Heart Institute is making efforts to reduce the waiting patients by carrying out surgeries on Saturday and Sunday but the cost is unchanged.
To effectively reduce the waiting patients, it needs to help medical clinics in districts and provinces be able operation technologies. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Hung said that his hospital is going to establish a treatment system for children with congenital heart diseases for the South.
Accordingly, children will be diagnosed and examined in local hospitals and the Children Hospital just carries out operations. After children are discharged from the hospital, they will be examined by local doctors who will follow the Children Hospital No. 1’s treatment diagram. The health sector should invest more in heart operation, especially purchase more equipments, beds and building more rooms.
More charity heart operations have been performed lately. Recently, the Medicine University Hospital launched charitable heart operation program for children with congenital heart problem financed by a benefactor. Under the free program, children aged 1 to 16 will account for 30 percent of the total number and those aged over 16 will take up 5 percent. 

According to the Association of Children Heart and Congenital Heart Disease in HCMC, the country has over 10,000 newly-born babies with congenital heart diseases before 2000, they have to wait 5 to 7 years for a surgery yet now it is just 2 or 3 years. Thanks to application of new techniques, the mortality rate is reduced from 7.7 percent in 2004 to 1.1 percent in 2014.

By Tuong Lam – translated by Anh Quan

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