Baby Maria has captured the hearts of Australians
following a series of articles published in major Australian newspapers
this week. Thanks to the support of the Australian public, this
week she will travel the Sydney Childrens Hospital for surgery.
The Bairo Pite Clinic is accepting donations to assist with the
costs of surgery. Unfornatually the case of Maria is not an isolated
occurance, and there are many other patients awaiting life-saving
surgery in Australia. Therefore, donations gained above the costs
of Marias surgery will be used to assist other Timorese
patients gain surgery in Australia. For updates on Maria's condition,
please see the clinic's latest news.
To make a donation to help Maria or another Timorese patient in
need, please see the donations page.
To view a photo gallery
of Maria and other patients in need of life-saving surgery, click
The stories re-printed below represent the views
of the author only and are not official medical diagnoses condoned
by BPC or any other health organisation.
April 3 2006 | April
cry for help from Maria
Reported by Lindsay Murdoch in Dili
Sydney Morning Herald April 3, 2006
Photo by Glenn Campbell
MARIA, two months old, will die because
doctors in East Timor cannot perform an operation on her
that would be routine in many Australian hospitals. She
was born with a hole in the wall of her tiny heart that
has made it difficult for her to breathe. Her 2.6-kilogram
body is not gaining weight, and a doctor is keeping her
alive with drugs. "I am appealing for help to get Maria
and her mother to Australia so that surgeons can save the
baby's life," said Dan Murphy, an American doctor working
in a clinic in a poor suburb of Dili.
"It's impossible for us to perform the operation to close
the hole in East Timor. We don't have any specialists or the technology
in this country. But in Australia she would be saved and able
to leave hospital after about a week as long as everything went
Dili's poor regard Dr Murphy as a living saint. For eight years
the tall, bearded man with a soft voice has run a small clinic
for those unable to receive treatment anywhere else. "I've
managed to perform miracles here," he said. "I've managed
to save people who were going to die but I'm afraid Maria will
not be one of them."
The baby is not gaining weight, so would be unable to survive
the drugs she needs to keep her alive, he said. "But I'm
sure I could control the kid well enough so she could travel abroad
for the operation."
Asked how long Maria would live without the operation, Dr Murphy
shrugged. Nobody knows. There could be complications at any moment.
Dr Murphy says his clinic, which treats up to 500 patients a day,
wants a lifeline to a big Western hospital. "When we get
one of these cases I have to appeal for help outside the country.
It would be great if I can just pick up the telephone and call
Dr Murphy has arranged for Maria's mother, Lorencia Soares, 32,
to stay with the baby in a small room with a stretcher at the
Ms Soares knows her baby is very ill but does not accept the possibility
she will die.
"I trust Dr Dan," she said. "He won't let my baby
Her husband, Vidal Dos Santos, 35, also refuses to leave the baby
to sell bananas he collects in the local market, his only source
of income. "I have no money," he said. "But that
is all right if Maria can have a normal life. That's the only
thing that matters to us."
flood of goodwill saves Maria's life
Reported by Lindsay Murdoch in Dili
Sydney Morning Herald April 4, 2006
Photo by Glenn Campbell
OFFERS have flooded in to help save the
life of Maria Soares, the tiny Timorese baby with a hole
in the wall of her heart. After the Herald revealed two-month-old
Maria's plight yesterday, the head of cardiology at Sydney
Children's Hospital at Randwick, Owen Jones, offered to
perform the operation to close the hole.
"I've set the ball in motion - there are various administrative
things that need to be done but it looks very promising that it
is going to happen," Professor Jones said.
Many offers were made after yesterday's report that Maria was
doomed to die because doctors in East Timor could not perform
the operation that would be routine in many Australian hospitals.
One of the first offers came from Kerryn Phelps, the former federal
president of the Australian Medical Association. "I'll see
what I can do - I have contacts through the health system,"
Professor Phelps told the Herald before contacting Professor Jones.
The executive director of the children's hospital, Les White,
said Maria would be flown from East Timor to Sydney as soon as
visas could be processed, with the help of the Rotary-driven humanitarian
project ROMAC - Reaching Overseas with Medical Aid for Children.
Within hours of the story being published, the Dili clinic run
by Maria's doctor, Dan Murphy, received offers to pay for the
airfares of Maria and her mother, Lorencia, to and from Australia.
Offers came to the Herald from around Australia, including a man
and a woman who each pledged $3000. Others offered accommodation
for Maria and her mother in Australia.
Dr Murphy is keeping Maria alive with drugs. When told of the
offer to perform the surgery, he said: "That's fantastic
Maria, weighing only 2.6 kilograms, is having difficulty breathing
and is not gaining weight. But Dr Murphy hopes Maria and her mother
can travel to Sydney within a week after their passports and visas
Professor White said: "This is a potentially curative operation.
We have the skills and expertise here at the hospital and we already
work closely with ROMAC, so it's natural we'd like to assist.
Maria's case has highlighted how the expertise at Sydney Children's
Hospital, Randwick, can be called upon to meet the needs for interstate
and overseas children."
A volunteer at Dr Murphy's Bario Pite Clinic, Virginia Dawson,
who was co-ordinating the donations, said: "The response
has been brilliant."