Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty is offering 100 free heart surgeries to patients in the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean and Latin America.
The surgeon said the offer of free operations, to be carried out at his hospital in Bangalore, India, was open to children mainly, but also to mothers of young children and the breadwinners in families.
Dr. Shetty, who was in Grand Cayman this week to meet his local partners in the planned Health City Cayman Islands, said the donation of the surgeries included the operation, meals and accommodation for a patient and one relative. The offer does not include the cost of the flight to Bangalore.
The patient and family member would be met at the airport and helped through the process leading up to, during and after the surgery.
“Heart surgery is one of the most expensive operations and less than 10 per cent of the world’s population can afford it,” Dr. Shetty said. “We are acutely aware of the economic crisis affecting the region, and its impact on the working class and poor. We would like to lend a helping hand and assist those who need it most.”
Dr. Shetty and his local partners Gene Thompson and Harry Chandi held a news conference Friday, 30 November, to announce the donations and to give an update on the medical tourism project which is under way in East End in Grand Cayman.
“We are now 14 months away from the first heart surgeries [at Health City Cayman Islands],” Dr. Shetty said.
He said that the surgeries could be carried out as soon as the medical details of the patients are submitted and the patients are determined to be suitable candidates.
He said the project had identified and interviewed a chief medical officer and chief nursing officer for the hospital. The first phase of the health city, which includes a 140-bed hospital, is scheduled to begin operation in early 2014. The developers had said earlier they hoped to have the hospital in operation by November next year, but due to delays in the passing of regulations associated with overseas medical practitioners working in the Cayman Islands, that date has been pushed back.
Dr. Shetty said that with an estimated 40 million people in the Caribbean, it was believed that 23,000 people need to undergo heart surgery every year, but less than 1,000 actually undergo the necessary operation.
Although the hospital in Cayman is not due to open until 2014, Dr. Shetty said he and his partners thought they would “begin clinical activities right away”.
Hence, he is offering the heart surgeries so that people in the region, who would be the medical tourists he hopes to attract once the Health City Cayman Islands opens, can avail of the medical intervention immediately.
The surgeon last Christmas offered three free surgeries, including the cost of the flight to India, to children in Cayman but there were no takers. Dr. Shetty said the offer of 100 surgeries was open to people in Cayman still but also throughout the region, where patients may not have the type of health insurance coverage available in Cayman.
Two years ago, Dr. Shetty operated for free on the then 4-year-old Leonisha Lofters in Bangalore to repair holes in her heart. The little girl, now 6, and her mother, Sue Ellis, met Dr. Shetty for the first time since they left India at Friday’s news conference.
Ms Ellis said Leonisha no longer has to take any medication and she is perfectly healthy. Dr. Shetty said one out of 140 children worldwide are born with heart defects.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the heart surgery offer should call 769-2273 or check the Health City Cayman Islands website at www.healthcitycaymanislands.com