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US doctors descend on Siem Reap in fourth heart surgery mission

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An operation during last year’s heart surgery mission at Angkor Hospital for Children.

Another heart surgery mission at the Angkor Hospital for Children is gearing up, with procedures due to start on Monday, December 7.

This is the fourth such mission in two years, where American doctors and other medical personnel donate their vacation time to perform heart surgery on children suffering from patent ductus arterious, a leaky-heart condition that causes the lungs to fill with blood.

The professionals will arrive from the University of California and Rady Children’s Hospital, both in San Diego, as well as the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The endeavour is sponsored by Variety Children’s Lifeline in Solana Beach, California, and the simple, half-hour procedure can save children’s lives and allow them to leave the hospital, cured, after just two days.

In the last three heart surgery missions at Angkor Hospital for Children, the team has repaired 55 hearts.

Susan Grossfeld, mission coordinator, said, “We now have 20 children currently scheduled for life-saving heart surgery, ranging from infants to teens. During the week the team is at the hospital it is not uncommon for new diagnoses to appear daily, so we anticipate more than that number will be candidates for surgery.”

The missions are the brainchild of Peter Chhun, a US-based NBC TV director who is also president and founder of Hearts Without Boundaries.

Chhun told 7Days, “While our work is tremendously gratifying, it is only a drop in the bucket. Tragically, there are thousands of children in Cambodia who have congenital heart defects and require procedures and facilities that are not available in their country.”

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