It started with a news story

In September 2010, newspapers reported on a desperate plea by Dr Noel Bayley and Dr Dan Murphy for help to urgently get teenage patients Ursula and Flavia to Australia for life-saving heart surgery.

When the news stories appeared, the response was immediate. Donations poured in; corporate travel support was pledged. Within six weeks, East Timor Hearts Fund was born.

Inspired by the media coverage, our co-founder Ingrid Svendsen joined with cardiologist Dr Noel Bayley to create an organisation to support Dr Bayley’s heart health work in Timor-Leste.

Messages of support on our 10th anniversary

Government congratulates East Timor Hearts Fund on its 10th anniversary

“The Government of Timor-Leste wishes to convey its most sincere congratulations and thanks to East Timor Hearts Fund, as the non-government run organization celebrates 10 years since, thanks to their efforts, they were able to gather the necessary funds for cardiac surgery of two Timorese patients in Australia.

East Timor Hearts Fund was founded on the volunteer work of cardiologist Dr. Noel Bayley, who has a mission of providing cardiac treatments to young East Timorese, allowing them a second chance in life.

Since September 2010, East Timor Hearts Fund has performed 80 surgeries and cardiac screening for thousands of patients. They run a program to prevent rheumatic heart disease (RHD) with penicillin for more than 300 patients and have distributed personal protective equipment to assist with COVID-19.

Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, on behalf of the Government and the Timorese People, expresses his deep appreciation and recognition for the work of East Timor Hearts Fund over the past 10 years, in the treatment and prevention of heart disease in Timor-Leste.”

HE Taur Matan Ruak

Prime Minister of Timor-Leste

“Congratulations should be given to the East Timor Hearts Fund on its ten-year anniversary saving lives and supporting Timorese health care. The East Timor Hearts Fund has dedicated itself to bringing young Timorese to Australia for life-saving operations, that we are not yet able to perform in our country. They also work with our health system to strengthen its capacity to provide health care to our people.

Timor-Leste is a new and developing country; we are building our nation and we need organisations like the East Timor Hearts Fund to work with us.  East Timor Hearts Fund brings skilled and experienced Australian professionals to support us and provide urgent health care to young Timorese in great need.

With the threat of COVID-19 it is times like these that we best understand the importance of coming together in solidarity. It is times like these that we must do something for people who are in difficult or life-threatening situations. The East Timor Hearts Fund should be commended for its dedication and commitment to saving lives.

Thank you, East Timor Hearts Fund, for the tireless work and support for our people.”

Dili, 10 September 2020

HE Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

Patron for East Timor Hearts Fund

Photo credit: Darren James

“The ten years that East Timor Hearts Fund has been providing life-saving heart surgeries for young people with heart disease in Timor-Leste is a wonderful demonstration of the friendship between our two nations.  I can only applaud the terrific work of the volunteers, and the amazing and heartening close working relationship between them and the inspiring healthcare professionals in Timor-Leste.  Their work should be encouraged and supported.”

General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, CVO, MC

Former Governor General of Australia

Ambassador for East Timor Hearts Fund

“It is my honour to send a heartfelt congratulations to David Marlow and the team at East Timor Hearts Fund on the celebration of your 10th Anniversary. This is a fantastic achievement representing years of lifesaving surgeries for Timorese people.  An organisation that relies on the goodwill and generosity of Australian volunteers is yet another example of the close bonds between our two people. This generosity was shown during COVID-19 where much needed PPE was supplied. I applaud you for your tireless work and again congratulate you for reaching this milestone.”

Her Excellency Ms Ines Almeida

Ambassador, Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Canberra 

“East Timor Hearts Fund is a true friend to the people of Timor-Leste. The distance between Darwin and Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, is closer than from Melbourne to Sydney. While the people from Timor are hard working and proud there is no escaping the fact that they are 131st (out of a possible 189 countries) on the United Nations Human Development Index, while Australia sits at number 6. This is a country that fought side by side to protect Australia’s borders during World War II. Timor-Leste deserves our support and friendship. As a true friend East Timor Hearts Fund works shoulder to shoulder with Timorese doctors and nurses in saving lives, preventing deaths and showing us what solidarity truly looks like. I cannot commend their work highly enough.”

Peter McMullin

Honorary Consul of Timor-Leste, Victoria

“East Timor Hearts Fund has proven its heartfelt commitment to the Timorese people, not only saving lives but continually putting heart health into the spotlight in Timor-Leste. In this country where almost one child in every classroom has a treatable heart condition there is always a need to do more, and East Timor Hearts Fund has led the way in giving hope to the hopeless.

The sacrificial generosity of their clinicians and volunteers has communicated how so many Australians feel about our Timorese neighbours. Together we look forward to a brighter future in which Timorese children and adults can be free from preventable heart disease, and East Timor Hearts Fund is showing the way.”

Dr Jeremy Beckett

Chief Executive Officer

Maluk Timor, Timor-Leste

“It’s heartening to see a volunteer-based non-governmental organization reach the 10th anniversary milestone. The work done by East Timor Hearts Fund  over the years in saving and transforming lives is immensely valuable and also much needed in Timor-Leste. I wish East Timor Hearts Fund all the very best in their endeavours and that many more people connect and support so that many more lives can be transformed.”

Dr Rajesh Pandav

World Health Organization Country Representative, Timor-Leste 

“The deaths of children and young adults in Timor-Leste from rheumatic heart disease are tragic and cause untold sadness. There is so much more that needs to be done. I am grateful for the individual lives that have been saved through the work of ETHF, but also for the opportunity to work together to support the Ministry of Health in its efforts to tackle this massive public health challenge.”

Dr Josh Francis

Paediatric Infectious Diseases Physician & Senior Research Fellow

Menzies School of Health Research

“Congratulation to East Timor Heart Fund for the tenth anniversary. Thank you for the Team, for all your effort in helping many Timorese that have  heart disease; have completed 80 surgeries in 10 years, about 20 screening clinics for thousands of patients, run a penicillin RHD prevention program for over 300 patients and thank you and keep up the good work.”

Ms Anche Cabral

First East Timorese Olympic Cyclist

Ambassador for East Timor Hearts Fund