terça-feira, 18 de janeiro de 2011

Timorese girl, 9, dies as doctor pleads for help

Lindsay Murdoch
January 18, 2011

A NINE-YEAR-OLD East Timorese girl has died because no Australian hospital would give her a life-saving operation.

For more than 12 months Dan Murphy, a doctor who runs a clinic for the poor in Dili, tried to persuade Australian hospitals to accept Ila Amaral for surgery to correct her defective mitral heart valve.

''I blame myself first - I was unable to find the words to make things move for her,'' Dr Murphy said from the Bairo Pite clinic where Ila died four days ago.

A cardiac team from Sydney had offered to go to East Timor to perform the operation but was refused permission to use a local operating theatre.

Dr Murphy asked the US Navy for the use of one of the 12 operating rooms on its hospital ship Mercy when it docked in Dili late last year, but the request was also refused.

After being unable to get a hospital in Australia to accept Ila, Dr Murphy appealed to others in the US and then a small cardiac hospital that is opening in Vietnam but ''a massive effort for something ridiculously simple as correcting a small girl's problem failed''.

He and staff at his clinic are devastated by her death, which came only months after two teenage patients from the clinic had successful operations in Australia.

Responding to a story in The Age, readers helped raise more than $30,000 to bring the girls to Melbourne for their operations.

Dr Murphy, an American seen as a saint-like figure among the poor in Dili, where he has worked for almost 15 years, attacked ''bureaucratic entanglement'' in Australia for failing to save Ila.

Money was available through the Rotary organisation Romac for Ila to travel to Australia, but Dr Murphy said an intensive effort to find a hospital that would accept her had failed.

Richard Woodburn, Romac's operations director, said hospitals gave Australian patients on waiting lists priority over foreign patients, even children.

He said more than 300 children in East Timor required cardiac treatment. ''We are exploring the possibility of setting up specialist facilities in East Timor so some could be treated there,'' he said.

Dr Murphy called for a system that would fast-track help in Australia for Timorese who would die without treatment.

Noel Bayley, a Warrnambool cardiologist who has helped Timorese patients for years, saw Ila at the Bairo Pite Clinic when he visited in November.

He said her situation was more complicated than the two patients from the clinic whose lives were saved in Australia because she needed open-heart surgery.

Fonte: http://www.theage.com.au/national/


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