Mending ‘broken hearts’ of poor kids

EHRAIZA (with his mother Evelyn) was one of the 50 fortunate recipients of DM Foundation’s “Save the Little Hearts” program. Photo by Charles E. Buban

The news that their child has a congenital heart defect would surely make parents anxious and worried about their child’s long-term health condition.

For 36-year-old Evelyn Macaraig, the immediate health effect on Ehraiza, her 4-year-old daughter who has been her constant concern. For the past two and a half years, Ehraiza has been experiencing poor appetite, shortness of breath and has bluish fingertips and lips.


“When she was still 1 and a half years old, a doctor in Sabang, Puerto Galera (in Mindoro where the family is living) detected an abnormal heart murmur. Further tests revealed that she has a hole in her heart and will need surgery to close it,” reminisced Macaraig.

The problem is, she only depends on her husband who works part-time as a construction worker. “We were told to prepare P230,000 for the operation, with P180,000 as deposit plus several bags of type B blood. We don’t have the money or access to someone who could aid us,” said Macaraig.


Good fortune

It was only good fortune that she was able to come to Manila and visited the Philippine General Hospital’s Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory where Ehraiza was enrolled to the  “Save the Little Hearts” project, an initiative of Dr. Azad Moopen’s Foundation, the non-profit arm of the largest health conglomerate in the Middle East, the Dubai-based DM Healthcare.

“While 5,000 new patients with CHD need heart surgery yearly, the Philippine Heart Center could only accommodate 300 per year, PGH 150 per year, St. Luke’s 15 per year, the Asian Hospital and Medical Center 6 per year, and the Medical City Manila 6 per year. Only 500 of the 5,000 can be operated on usually because of financial constraints while one of three cases would need financial assistance as well as one of four will die of complications due to nonintervention. We are glad for the ‘Save the Little Hearts’ project,” said Dr. Jonas del Rosario, head of the Center for Congenital Heart Disease at St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory of the PGH.

In a press conference held on the eve of Valentine’s Day, Dr. Moopen said 50 needy young patients who are suffering from congenital heart defects (CHD) are set to receive free surgery grants through the “Save the Little Hearts” program.

Give something back

“As an employer of choice to many Filipino staff at DM Healthcare, we wanted to give something back to the community that is integral to our growth. We are thankful to the authorities in the Philippines whose support has made it possible for us to launch this initiative here. ‘Save the Little Hearts’ is among our first charity initiatives in the Philippines,” said Moopen during the press conference held at Shangri-La Makati.

As a symbolic gesture of its commitment toward the activities of the “Save the Little Hearts” program in the Philippines, Moopen handed over the certificate of donation to the board of trustees of DM Healthcare Philippines.


The amount of donation, estimated to cost more than P5 million is over and above the equivalent of 10,000 “Likes” on the Facebook campaign of the “Save the Little Hearts” program. At https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheLittleHearts), the foundation pledged to give P100 to fund free heart surgeries for young CHD patients (the Facebook page got over 5,000 “Likes” in the first week of its launch).

Dr. Moopen’s Foundation will work with some government hospitals in the Philippines to select young patients with heart diseases based on their need for treatment.

Moopen informed the media people that most surgeries will be done here in the Philippines while patients who need more complicated procedures will be sent to India where DM Healthcare has hospital partners including the famed Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences Ltd., a tertiary-care referral hospital in Kerala (Southwest region of India) of which Moopen is also the founding chair.

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