Heart of generosity: Free surgery offers new lease of life | Daily News

Heart of generosity: Free surgery offers new lease of life

Fully recovered heart patient Chitra Irangani with her husband and son Samanera Bhikku
Fully recovered heart patient Chitra Irangani with her husband and son Samanera Bhikku

The Co-op Heart Center at the Galle Co-operative Hospital is the only private cardiothoracic centre in the Southern Province. This centre recently celebrated its third anniversary in an admirable way by carrying out a coronary bypass surgery on a well-deserved young mother of two entirely free of charge at their state-of-the-art heart care centre.

Consultant Cardiologist Surgeon Namal Gamage who appreciated the suggestion of the Board of Directors of the Co-op Heart Center volunteered to carry out the surgery with no charges.

Board of Directors of the Co-op Heart Center with Consultant Surgeon Dr. Namal Gamage

The Galle Co-op Heart Center was established on June 29, 2017 with an investment of Rs. 320 million by Cardiac Care Pvt. Ltd, a newly-formed firm by a group of energetic and passionate entrepreneurs which included young professionals at the Co-operative Hospital, Galle.

Dr. Ahmed Riffkan, the Chairman of the Co-op Heart Center Director Board, elaborating their strategy on cardiac care services, stated that they have a dedicated team of heart specialists and medical professionals led by senior Cardiologist Surgeon Namal Gamage.

“The centre solely depends on the medical expertise of Dr. Namal Gamage. We observed the numerous hardships that people of the Southern Province undergo when obtaining treatments for various heart ailments and cardiovascular diseases. We have a committed surgical team and our nursing team includes well-qualified professionals with years of experience. Many of them are from the Karapititiya Teaching Hospital. Our team caters to the needs of every patient, giving priority to their comfort,” he stated.

“Our objective is to improve the healthcare system of the Southern Province, focusing on quality, affordability and accessibility. Before the commencement of our Heart Center, the people of the South had to go to heart centres in Colombo in case of any type of heart surgery. Now, they do not have to travel to Colombo for cardiac surgeries paying exorbitant charges. They can now have cardiac surgeries, at low cost and with less trouble in their own home town,” Vascular Diseases (CVD) Dr. Rifkan said.

Speaking on their empathic mission, Co-op Heart Center Director Deepal Withanage said while they were looking for an eligible patient to execute their charitable undertaking on account of the centre’s third anniversary, they had learnt about a mother of two who undergoes severe hardships and urgently needed to undergo a heart operation through a post published on the social media.

“Chitra Irangani, 36, of Haththotamuna, Morathenna in the Laggala Divisional Secretariat area of the Matale District was the patient we identified for the surgery and she very urgently needed to go through the operation. Our Board of Directors decided to undertake the surgery which cost over Rs. one million completely free of charge,” he said.

“Subsequently, we informed our intention to Consultant Surgeon Dr. Gamage who became quite pleased with our move and agreed to perform the surgery with no charges,” Withanage disclosed.

The surgery in progress 
(Pictures by Mahinda P. Liyanage- Galle Central Special Correspondent)

Accordingly, the Co-op Heart Center directors collected information of the mother from the Galle Karapitiya Teaching Hospital and informed their plan to her. Chitra Irangani’s two sons were ordained as Buddhist novice monks, but later the elder son had disrobed to help his father who worked hard as a hired worker for the survival of the family.

“We have no permanent source of income for the family. We earn a living as hired workers. As it was difficult to bring up our two children, we offered them to the Sasana. However, following the identification of my acute heart disease, my elder son disrobed and came home to save my life. Since then he also started to work with the father,” Chitra described her plight.

As the illness deteriorated her health day by day, she had been transferred from hospital to hospital. Finally, at the Kandy Hospital, she had been identified as a patient with a severe heart failure which needed an urgent cardiac operation. Hospital authorities had told her that she had to be in the long waiting list of cardiac patients to undergo the operation and they were also told that if they could do the operation at a private hospital, they had to spend about Rs. one million.

“Finding Rs. one million was a difficult task for us which could not even imagine of. The Samanera monk of our family tried various ways to find the needed expenditure for the surgery. A person known to the monk had got the details about my predicament and published a Facebook post explaining our family’s grave situation. Later, a monk in Kalutara directed us to Consultant Surgeon Dr. Namal Gamage in Galle.

He examined me and advised us that I should undergo a bypass heart surgery immediately. Nevertheless, I had to wait for about two years for the operation to be done at the Karapitya Hospital,” the innocent mother said.

“During this period, a gentleman named Deepal phoned me; he asked me to come to the Galle Co-op Heart Center and meet him. There, I met Deepal mahattaya and Co-operative Hospital Chairman Charles Gamage who told me that they were ready to conduct my surgery completely free of charge.

They also promised me to provide medication needed before and after the operation. It was unbelievable for me to hear their compassionate benefaction. It was a precious support for our destitute family. My heart surgery was performed successfully at the Co-op Heart Center and now I am quite well. We are grateful and indebted to the directors of the Heart Center, Dr. Namal Gamage and his medical staff who treated us with much sympathy and care.

Consultant Surgeon Dr. Gamage, commenting on his mission, appreciated the Co-op Heart Center’s way of celebrating their third anniversary in the trade.

“They selected the most-deserved patient for their task. She was the only person in our waiting list of long-suffering cardiac patients awaiting to undergo heart surgeries. About 50 percent of these innocent patients die before they obtain their turn. It is pathetic,” Dr. Gamage revealed.

“The people who can afford the cost of surgery go to private sector hospitals. Before the commencement of the Galle Co-op Heart Center, people of the province had to go to Colombo for cardiac surgeries. However, now people of South can have this expensive operation at a low cost in Galle,” he stated.