Forty-six children diagnosed with congenital heart disease were given free surgery at Tsinghua University’s First Affiliated Hospital in Beijing. The patients came by train from Yunnan with their families, many of whom couldn’t afford corrective operations for the disease which is deadly if left untreated. The youngest patient was just 8 months old, but he and the other 45 are now said to be recovering well.
Around four million people suffer from congenital heart disease across China, half of them being children, and those who grow up in the mountainous terrains of western China are especially at risk because the altitude is so high.
According to the Chinese Medical Doctors Association, 150,000 babies are born every year in China with congenital heart disease but less than half of them are able to receive proper and timely treatment, especially in remote areas where access to hospitals is limited.
“Early diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment,” Dr. Sun Kun from Shanghai Xinhua Hospital told People’s Daily. “In places like Shanghai,a heart scan that costs a little more than 100 yuan can detect congenital heart disease even the baby is still in the womb. However, delayed diagnosis for children in remote areas means they miss the best opportunity for treatment.”