There are more than 4000 children born with cardiac defects in Ukraine every year. Many of these children require immediate medical assistance in the first days of life. In the Kyiv research and practice medical center of paediatric cardiology and cardiosurgery the best Ukrainian specialists fix these "mistakes of nature". As of today, this is the only center proving medical assistance free of charge. ForUm went to actually see the work of the center.

Psychologist of the center Anastasia Kasianova kindly organized for us a private tour around.
It turns out that the building, where the center is currently located, dates back to 1904, when the first free of charge hospital for poor citizens was founded by Nikolai Tereshchenko of a prominent Tereshchenko family of Ukrainian entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

It used to have therapy, surgery and infectious diseases departments. For the first ten years, the "Free of charge hospital of the crown prince Nikolai for labourers" rendered assistance to more than 9000 patients. In 1921 the hospital was repurposed for pediatric clinic.

In 2003 the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine decreed to reorganize the cardiosurgery and intensive care department for newborns affiliated to the Amosov's Institute of cardiac surgery into an independent department. In 2006 the department, headed by cardiac surgeon Ilia Yemets, moved to the historical building of Nikolai's hospital.

In December 2010, the Center opened the second site for adult patients, who underwent heart surgeries in childhood.

"Our Center continues old traditions and provides treatment free of charge. There are more than 4000 children born with cardiac defects in Ukraine every year. And all of them come to our Center for help. Many of these children require immediate medical assistance in the first days of life otherwise they can die," Anastasia Kasianova tells.

Thanks to modern medicine, congenital heart disease can be diagnosed at early stages of pregnancy.

"If a future mom has any suspicions about the health of her child, she can undergo prenatal ultrasonic cardiography. Such diagnostics enables to reveal heart defects of the fetus starting from14 weeks of pregnancy," Anastasia Kasianova explains near the ultrasonic cardiography  room.

The hall of the center is equipped with a lounge zone for parents and kids, and social service organizers various entertaining shows for little patients to reduce the stress.

The room for X-ray radiography.

A doctor is examining a little patient.

The Center also carries out magnetic resonance imaging for children to diagnose tumor and its characteristics. However, we could not visit the room for magnetic resonance imaging, as it was occupied by a child in coma.

As Anastasia Kasianova told us, the majority of children undergo MRI before and after operations.

"All operations are very complicated and last for seven-ten hours with the use of cardiac pump, which brings the risk of a stroke or central nervous system damage. Thus, if a child manifests the symptoms, he is sent directly to a neuropathologist for treatment. However, the problems disappear with aging and only a small scar reminds about the tragedy.

The walls of the Center are covered with children's drawings and pictures with gratitude for saved lives.

A doctor of the department Nadezhda Rukitskaya tells that the Center carries out five-seven operations per day.

"We carry out 5-7 operations with narcosis a day for children of various ages, from newborns to 18-year-old. We also carry out serious examinations of diseases of different gravity. In general, we deal with heart diseases, but there are also patients with mental diseases. Ukraine does not produce the medical equipment we need, thus we purchase it from Germany."

Children in the intensive care.

Apart from standard operations, the Center carries out roentgen-endovascular surgeries (intervention treatment), specifics of which were explained by Mykola Khrush, endovascular surgeon of the Center. 

"A large number of procedures can be performed on the heart by catheterization. This most commonly involves the insertion of a sheath into the femoral artery (but, in practice, any large peripheral artery or vein) and cannulating the heart under X-ray visualization. The main advantages of using the interventional cardiology or radiology approach are the avoidance of the scars and pain, and long post-operative recovery. Children withstand such operations better and after several days can already go home."

According to the surgeon, the Center needs about 300 devices per year to carry out endovascular surgeries. However, the equipment is very expensive. Abroad, for example, such operations are financed by the state. But in Ukraine the Center depends on charity funds.

Thus, the Center organizes various actions and charity auctions. The most famous action is "Race under chestnut trees" with participation of former little patients and all those who bring donations.

On November 30, the Center organized the third charity auction "Artists to children", aimed at collecting means for children with heart diseases. Thus, this year 90% of the works have been sold and about 94 thousand hryvians have been collected for purchasing new equipment.

The doctors once saved the life of the little girl Anna-Maria, and today she has come to the auction to express support to other children.

As of today, the Center of pediatric cardiology and cardiosurgery is a reference model for modern pediatric medical assistance.

As we have seen for ourselves, the Center has the best specialists and equipment and every doctor takes care of his patients as if they are his own children. And in this respect, we want to thank all the workers of the center for their golden deeds and hearts of gold.

Anastasia Pika, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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