We’re a proudly volunteer driven organisation.

Our board, our patient support team, many of our key operational people in finance, marketing and administration, and of course our medicos, all donate their time.

We’re proud and incredibly grateful to have them working with us as we fight the injustice of rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste.

Dr Josh Francis
Rheumatic heart disease adviser

I have been working alongside health providers in Timor-Leste since 2013. In 2016 I worked to help conduct the first ever rheumatic heart disease prevalence study in Timor-Lest, which has helped us to understand the extent of this disease, and plan strategies to fight it.

As a paediatrician, I see too many children and young people suffer and die, often from preventable and treatable conditions. Rheumatic heart disease affects Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, and Timorese children, at rates that are higher than just about anywhere else in the world. People’s lives are affected by so much tragedy in Timor-Leste, and rheumatic heart disease provides a stark illustration of this kind of tragedy. The memory of children I have cared for, who don’t survive into adulthood, will never leave me. They have become a huge part of my work.

I now work with East Timor Hearts Fund to develop strategic ways of preventing and managing rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste.

Dr Liz Paratz

Some years ago I worked for East Timor Hearts Fund honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley as a medical registrar in Warrnambool Hospital. I was inspired by not only the massive amount of work he has put into helping to create East Timor Hearts Fund, but the grit and dedication of the whole team.

It has been a perfect fit for me to join the team on multiple trips to Timor-Leste to run clinics and assist with research. I interview and examine patients, then perform echocardiograms, seeing hundreds of patients over a few short days. It’s a privilege and an honour working with the East Timor Hearts Fund team, and I can say with certainty that the clinical experience I’ve gained in Timor-Leste makes me a far better cardiologist.

After being laughed at by lots of Timorese children, I have discovered that my name ‘Liz’ is very similar to ‘liis’ which is Tetum for onion. I love learning languages so I am now trying to learn some phrases in Tetum.

Dr Ari Horton
Paediatric lead

Since participating in my first screening visit to Timor-Leste in 2017 I have become passionate about this work and have visited Timor-Leste numerous times. It has been eye-opening to see the vast health differences between Australia and our neighbour, as well as the absolute spirit, determination and joy of the Timorese people.

As a paediatric cardiac specialist, I specialise in congenital and inherited heart disease for all ages, as well as having a specific interest in rheumatic heart disease. I was asked to join East Timor Hearts Fund to improve the care of children as well as the education of local staff and families.

I’m involved in clinical research, the penicillin program and follow-up of rheumatic heart disease patients. I firmly believe in education, capacity building, empowerment and collaboration with local services and I enjoy supporting local teams to further develop their skills.

Dr Alan Appelbe

I spent three inspiring and eye-opening months in Africa working in hospitals as a medical student in 1982. Despite my best intentions, 30 years elapsed before I volunteered again, this time for East Timor Hearts Fund.

I made first my trip to Timor in 2015 and seeing desperately ill young people with valvular heart disease, I regretted waiting 30 years to return to volunteer work and have made many trips since.

My area of speciality is in heart ultrasounds, valvular heart disease and congenital heart disease. It is a privilege to be able to help diagnose patients in Timor-Leste and see them receive the treatment they so desperately need.

Gordon Szegi
Biomedical engineer

For many years I have worked as a biomedical engineer at the same hospital as East Timor Hearts Fund honorary medical adviser Dr Noel Bayley. When asked if I would be interested in utilising my skills at Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares in Dili, I didn’t hesitate.

It has been a great honour to offer my skills in Timor-Leste, and having family connections to the country has made this work even more meaningful for me.

I help to manage, maintain and fix medical equipment to ensure that donated equipment stay in good working order. I also help repair faulty equipment and during my first visit in 2017, I assembled pre-loved patient bedside monitors and Holter monitors that allow patients to have their heart rhythm monitored outside hospital, as well as checking defibrillator units which had been donated to the hospital’s cardiac care ward.

Working in a regional hospital in country Victoria has provided me with great experience and problem-solving skills that I am now able to use in Timor-Leste.

Professor Andrew Cochrane AM

I first became involved in overseas charitable cardiac work in 2000. I have operated on a number of Timorese patients as part of my work in Timor-Leste, which began in 2003, when I was asked to join a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons paediatric cardiac team to East Timor.  I visited East Timor for several years as team leader for the small cardiac team.

As a former board member of East Timor Hearts Fund and a member of the clinical advisory board committee, I help advise on the basis of my knowledge and contact with Timor-Leste, and to help progress the future plans.  I also support the organisation on projects such as the proposed first visiting open-heart team to Timor-Leste.  This is by far the most effective way of providing cardiac surgery for those needing it, and more cost-effective than bringing patients to Australia.

Dr Simon Eggleton

I see myself as fortunate to have skills which can help others and have long desired to give back to society. Timor-Leste seemed like the perfect place to do this as it’s a small, young country that has only basic medical care and is one of our closest neighbours who has helped Australia in the past. As part of the volunteer medical team I travel to Timor-Leste to help identify patients in need of cardiac care. This also involves following up those who have already undergone a procedure. I am also part of the board clinical governance committee.

Ana Saldanha
Patient support coordinator

As a Timorese, I know how important it is to have your loved ones and friends by your side, especially when you are ill or in difficult circumstances. I have worked with East Timor Hearts Fund since 2011 to help patients feel supported and comfortable with their treatment. They often come without family, don’t speak English and face severe culture shock, all while they are undergoing unfamiliar medical procedures. It simply gives me the greatest joy to help others in need and make their journey a little less scary.

Inacio Carvalho
Patient support volunteer

I first became aware of East Timor Hearts Fund in 2010. In 2014, I myself underwent open-heart surgery. It makes a big difference that I can share my experiences with the patients and can relate to their stories when they tell me that they feel breathless, tired and have pain in their chests. This is an incredible charity that is making a big impact on Timorese people’s lives.

Mat Lynn
Photographer and videographer

I fell in love with Timor-Leste several years ago on a travelling photography trip. I have been involved with East Timor Hearts Fund since 2013. I photograph patients when they come to Australia for surgery and have travelled to Timor-Leste a number of times to capture the work there, including the first paediatric surgical mission, Operation Good Hearts. It’s so important to help raise awareness of the organisation’s amazing work, so I’m glad to be able to be a part of this.

My first task was to follow patients Arminda and Maria from the airport, through to the operating theatre and recovery and it was wonderful to see those photos published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. I hope to continue providing media that raises public awareness about the work of East Timor Hearts Fund and the health problems people in Timor-Leste face. Check out more of Mat’s work at www.matlynn.com.au See his Fairfax Media photo essay on patients Arminda and Maria

Daniel Mendelbaum

I first photographed the East Timor Hearts Fund participants in the Run Melbourne fundraising event in 2014. Since then I have been involved in photographing events and stories to help funds and awareness for this worthwhile cause. I am delighted to help and I am so impressed that a charity run almost entirely by volunteers can achieve such lifesaving results.

Alzira dos Reis
Timorese board adviser

I unexpectedly came into contact with the work of East Timor Hearts Fund several years ago, when I was CEO of the Alola Foundation. One of the girls we were supporting had heart surgery in Australia provided by East Timor Hearts Fund. This inspired me to continue engaging with this foundation in contributing more for the improvement life of Timorese people who need a helping hand.

As Timorese board adviser I attend board meetings and provide the board with advice on anything to do with culture, society and government in Timor-Leste. I also help with networking and forming relationships for East Timor Hearts fund with government and non-government organisations.

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