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Only 20% of infants with heart diseases get help in Kazakhstan

©tengrinews.kz ©tengrinews.kz

Only 20 percent of infants with heart diseases receive medical aid in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports citing the Head of the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery department of the National Cardiac Surgery Research Center Dmitriy Gorbunov.

“Currently, Kazakhstan has 12 centers where the operations are performed on children. The main direction in Kazakhstan's pediatric cardiac surgery development is neonatal cardiac surgery - cardiac surgery of neonates and infants. Unfortunately, the demand for these kinds of surgeries is very high (in Kazakhstan). We manage to meet around 80% of the demand for operations on children, but as for infants, we cover only 20%. We need to develop in this direction. The less time passes after the birth of an infant with congenital heart defect, the more difficult the operation is,” Dmitriy Gorbunov said at III National Congress of cardiac surgeons held in Astana on August 29-30.

“The remaining 80% (of infants with a congenital heart defect who cannot get a surgery in Kazakhstan) either die or go abroad. Mostly of them do not survive, sometimes a congenital heart defect is not diagnosed fast enough, or a wrong diagnosis is made. It is very difficult to operate on small infants. It is not a matter of a surgeon coming into an O.R. and making a surgery. It involves a whole team of doctors: perfusionists, anesthesiologists, resuscitators, pediatric cardiologists, neonatologists, and many others. Newborns constitute a special category of patients: their physiology is special. There are very few such teams of doctors in Kazakhstan. There are good doctors, but they all work separately, whereas to do such surgery they have to be all in one place and trained to work together. We have such a team in our center (National Research Cardiac Surgery Center). However, we have gone a long path to achieve it, too,” Dmitriy Gorbunov said.

According to Dmitriy Gorbunov, seven infants per every 1000 newborns are born with congenital heart diseases in Kazakhstan. 2500-2700 surgeries are made every year. "Currently, the queue for elective surgeries is about one month long in our clinic. And if a newborn needs an immediate surgery, we have a medical aviation to bring such infants from any region of the country to our clinic," he said.

“There is a European scale called the basic scale of Aristotle which specifies the complexity of the patients’ category. We carry out operations on almost all of these categories (children's heart surgeries). The Ministry of Health sends a very few patients abroad, mostly those who go to the second or third stage (of the treatment). Most of them previously had surgeries somewhere abroad. 95 percent of operations are done in Kazakhstan,” Dmitriy Gorbunov said.

He also stressed that in order to become one of the most developed countries, Kazakhstan needs to reduce the infant mortality rate and to do it it needs to develop neonatal heart surgery.

Kazakhstan is already firm on the path of advanced surgery.

In her opening speech, Kazakhstan’s Vice-Prime-Minister Gulshara Abdykalikova said that over the last 3 years, the National Research Cardiac Surgery Centre conducted 6 heart transplantations and around 130 implantations of left ventricular assist device, usually referred to as an artificial heart.

According to Abdykalikova Kazakhstan’s medical institutions currently employ 174 cardiac surgeons that conduct all kinds of cardiac surgeries on adults and children over 1 year old, including the surgeries that use cardiopulmonary bypass and those on a beating heart. 

This year, the National Congress of cardiac surgeons brought together more than 500 domestic and foreign doctors, scientists and experts, including 47 speakers, who are the world-renowned specialists in cardiology, cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology.

A world-renowned children's cardiac surgeon Dr. Richard Jonas MD from Washington came to this year's conference to share his experience in paediatric heart surgeries.

The goal of the congress was to bring together the surgeons from around the world to share experience, ideas and discuss the latest achievements in the field of cardiac surgery.

The 3rd National Congress of Cardiac Surgeons was organized by the National Research Cardiac Surgery Center located in Astana in collaboration with the University of Chicago (USA) and the World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons, and supported by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Nazarbayev University.

Reporting by Altynai Zhumzhumina, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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