Rotary helps save a child’s life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Rolanda (last name withheld), a 7-year-old child from St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, is generally a happy little girl who loves nothing better than sharing fun with her four sisters. Today, she is better equipped to participate in child’s play thanks to life-saving surgery sponsored by Rotary International, the parent organization of the Suffolk Rotary Club.

The little girl was born with a congenital heart disease known as Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). A large opening between the ventricles causes her heart to pump an extra amount of blood, causing an overworked and enlarged heart.


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If not operated on, her heart would not be able to support Rolanda beyond her childhood. Her condition was diagnosed in August 2002 by IHC Cardiologist Dr. Moskowitz.

Rolanda had her first appointment the morning after she arrived in Richmond last year, and after undergoing an additional echocardiogram, the surgeons scheduled her surgery.

While waiting for operation, Rolanda stayed at the Ronald McDonald House with other children in line for surgery and treatment. They participated in a variety of activities, such as arts and crafts and reading, to pass the time.

The child underwent surgery at the International Hospital for Children in Richmond, an organization founded by members of the South Richmond Rotary Club. On Wednesday, six hours of surgery saved her from a heart defect that usually results in death before age 20.

St. Vincent South Rotary Club helped sponsor Rolanda, and in Suffolk, no Rotary project ever escapes the attention of the local club.

&uot;Members of the Suffolk Rotary put up $5,000 to help sponsor Rolanda and we are very excited that her surgery has been successful,&uot; said Allen Perrel, head of the International Service-Youth Project for the Suffolk club. &uot;Rolanda’s parents are farmers and did not have the money for this surgery. Thanks to the generous support of the members of our club, Rolanda is expected to live a good life.&uot;

The International Hospital for Children was established by an orthodontist, Julian C. Metts Jr. He saw the critical unmet surgical needs of children, and after working on the Guyana Project for seven years, he and others with experience in child health overseas, founded the International Hospital for Children in 1999.

Perrel said the need for the International Hospital for Children is very great because most children from developing nations with birth defects, brain tumors, defective hearts, and vascular or neurological problems are simply left to die.

&uot;The International Hospital for Children is a demonstration of our ongoing and long-term commitment to these children,&uot; said Perrel. &uot;We are determined to do everything we can to change this needless tragedy of child suffering and death by focusing on the generosity of spirit and the deeply rooted ethic of service to others internationally, as well as at home.&uot;