‘The worst heart I have ever seen’

A special message from volunteer cardiologist, Dr Simon Eggleton

Dear friends,

I’m writing to share a story about our patient Timotio.

Fixing damaged hearts is what I do. And after so many years practising, you think you have seen it all.

But when you look at the heart scans of Timorese patients, you realise that there is a whole side of poor heart health that you are not exposed to when you practice in a wealthy country like Australia.

When I scanned 21-year-old Timotio’s heart during a trip to Dili, I was shocked. This was the worst rheumatic disease damage I had ever seen. In a young man who should be at the prime of his life.

Scarring caused by the effects of childhood rheumatic fever had reduced Timotio’s mitral valve to the size of a pin hole. With the blood unable to flow, his lungs were drowning in fluid, leaving Timotio breathless and struggling to walk.

We quickly arranged for Timotio to come to Australia, and in September 2017 my colleague Dr Virag Kushwaha and I performed a high-tech mitral balloon procedure. It was a complete success. Within hours Timotio was up and walking, breathing easy for the first time in years.

Dr Kushwaha and I caught up with Timotio in Dili last year. I can’t describe how good it felt to see such a transformation. Timotio can study and play sport again.

I’ll see Timotio again when we do the Run Melbourne fun run and walk together on Sunday 28 July. I hope you too can come along and see living proof of our life-changing work.

One in 28 young people in Timor-Leste suffers from rheumatic heart disease, so there are many more who need our help. That’s why I’m asking you to make a tax-time donation before 30 June, to allow us to help other patients like Timotio. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Thank you in advance for your support,

Dr Simon Eggleton

Volunteer cardiologist

East Timor Hearts Fund

PS: Like almost all of the people who work for East Timor Hearts Fund, my medical colleagues and I are volunteers. This lean, volunteer-driven model means that you can be sure your contribution will have real impact. Please make a tax-time donation today.

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Timotio's 'miracle'

“When I had heart disease, I couldn’t walk far, not even to school. I was short of breath, tired and my heart pumped so fast.

After the operation I felt like a miracle happened to me. Now I can play soccer and run, and I can do activities at home with my family.”