These are some of the stories of patients who
have been treated at Bairo Pite Clinic or have been able to obtain
treatment overseas because of the work of the clinic. Click on
the patient name below.
• Maria Soares - "hole
in the heart" - Please visit this
page for more information on baby Maria Soares.
Other patients currently awaiting life-saving
operations that can only be performed overseas:
• Bonifacio - A young boy needing heart surgery
• Cipriano - A young man needing heart surgery
• Jenita - A young girl needing a tumour removed from her
To view a photo gallery
of Maria and these other patients in need of life-saving surgery,
For a closer look at some of the patients currently
in the clinic, please visit the Patients
Past patients at bpc
• Angela - balloon mitral valvotomy
• Cesaltina - heart surgery
• Octaviana - proximal tibial osteomyelitis
• David - mitral valve disease secondary
to rheumatic fever
Angela's heart surgery
On Thursday 3 April 2003, Angela underwent a life saving operation
called a balloon mitral valvotomy at the Mount Hospital in Perth.
The balloon was inserted into an artery in her groin and carefully
threaded through her body until correctly positioned in her heart.
It is was inflated three times, thereby correcting a heart valve
defect she has had since birth, and which has had a significant
impact on her childhood health. Angela is now 21 years old - and
without this operation is unlikely to have lived for more than
another year or two. In fact, because the abnormal mitral valve
predisposes to blood clots she suffered a stroke that paralysed
the left side of her body shortly before leaving Dili to undergo
Angela had her operation in Perth as there are no facilities or
surgeons in East Timor to conduct such an operation. It was with
the assistance of the Rotary Club of Perth, and particularly the
efforts of Rotarian Ron Whitelaw, that the operation was made
With urging from Ron, Qantas provided sponsored travel to Perth
for Angela and her father. The Mount Hospital provided free hospital
and operating facilities. The balloon, worth $5,000, was provided
without charge by a medical equipment company. Dr. Bernard Hockings
performed operation free of charge.
Rotarian Laurie O'Meara provided accommodation for Angela and
her father at the Emerald hotel. Joe Felipe, and East Timorese
now living in Perth, made himself available for the duration of
the stay and helped enormously by doing the translating, since
neither Angela or her father speak English.
And it all went like clockwork. At the regular Club Luncheon on
4 April, the proceeds of the Sergeant's Session were donated to
Angela and her father to do some shopping before returning to
East Timor. Rotarian Kellie Costello took charge of the shopping
expedition to ensure they got good value. Rotarian Michael van
der Zanden took studio and other photos of Angela to give her
a reminder of her stay in Perth.
Angela and her father have now returned to East Timor. Before
leaving, Angela presented the Club with a traditional Timorese
hand woven material suitable for use as a table runner or wall
hanging or similar. This colourful, high quality item can be seen
in the Perth Rotary Office. And another small chapter has been
written in the history of The Rotary Club of Perth.
Angela is able to walk without the use of the frame now she is
back in Dili. It is hoped that her decline to heart failure has
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Cesaltina's Heart Operation
Cesaltina and her mother Senora Veronica arrived
in Sydney very early on Monday morning 10 February. Their first
week in Sydney was taken up with visiting the heart specialist
Dr David Celermajer, and various Rotary functions, as well as
seeing some of the sights of Sydney.
Maureen McGee was with them for much of the time, providing some
cultural bridging as well as much needed interpreting. Comfortable
accommodation was provided at the Good Samaritan Congregational
Centre in Glebe, close to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH).
Sister Rita from the Centre, who has been working in East Timor
for the last two years, was able to offer companionship and support
to the ladies. A cheerful Channel 9 film crew - Jenni, Chris and
Tony - accompanied every move related to the operation and associated
specialist visits. They were terrific, even allowing for Chris's
incredibly (at times) corny jokes.
Apparently the diagnosis of her heart condition was quite worrying
- if Cesaltina did not have the operation, she might only have
lived for another five years. Dr David made arrangements for the
operation, where a device would be placed in her heart. There
were two options for success: attempt a simple procedure, which
would see her in hospital for only one day; if this were not successful,
then she would need more extensive surgery. Perhaps thanks to
everyone's prayers (Cesaltina made sure we were all praying for
her!) the shorter procedure was a success.
Normally people would leave hospital on the same day of the operation.
But poor Cesaltina had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic agents,
which saw her vomiting endlessly, and getting quite weak. And
for most of this the cameras were rolling! She and her mother
managed to maintain dignity and good humour, and she left hospital
on the afternoon of the second day.
There were some pains in her legs post-op, Dr David checked everything
thoroughly, nothing really much to worry about. Cesaltina didn't
help matters by walking backwards onto a hot car exhaust pipe!
It was fantastic to see the changes in the two ladies as the days
moved along. Smiles, enthusiasm, happiness and optimism.
At her final check , Dr David was enthusiastically happy about
the outcome of Cesaltina's operation. Twelve months on daily low-dose
aspirin, and a normal life that will allow sport within three
During her stay in Sydney Cesaltina's English improved dramatically,
she has an enormous thirst for learning. In trips to the zoo and
Sydney aquarium she had plenty of opportunity to learn new animal
names! She's now looking forward to concentrating on her university
studies, and contributing to the future of East Timor.
Thanks go to the Rotary clubs of Warringah and Brookvale, Dr David
who donated his time and skills, RPAH for donating hospital facilities,
the company that supplied the device, Virgin Blue and Air North
for airfares, and kind individuals such as Maureen, and Mr Keith
and Mrs Rita who were among the many that showed hospitality and
gave beautiful gifts.
Contributed by Sandra Meihubers
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Octaviana is a four year old boy who lives in
a small house alongside the old Dili airport runway. His parents
run a small shop attached to the house to provide for Octaviana
and his six brothers and sisters.
A year prior to being seen at Bairo Pite Clinic he had fallen
over and received a deep injury near his right knee. The wound
was initially seemed to be healing but soon began to ooze pus
and he was unwilling to walk properly. He was seen at a clinic
and given a course of antibiotics. The wound appeared to heal
but again broke down. Over the next year he was given repeated
courses of antibiotic but his wound never really got any better.
In actual fact things were getting very much worse indeed. When
his mother brought him to Bairo Pite Clinic, he hadn't been walking
properly for a couple of weeks and preferred to be carried. The
wound was slowly oozing pus which soaked the dressing that had
been in place for a couple of days. His knee was swollen and hot
to touch and he refused to allow anyone to move the joint through
its full range of movements. He hadn't been eating well and was
looking a little quiet and miserable for a typical Timorese four
year old. It seemed like he possibly had septic arthritis or osteomyelitis.
There was also a concern that maybe there the cause of the infection
was tuberculosis. Dr Dan started another course of antibiotics
and challenged Jon and myself to get the knee sorted out once
and for all.
I had earlier visited the UN military hospital to see if a doctor
I knew from Darwin was still in Dili and had run into the CO,
Colonel Wrobel who seemed like a friendly chap. I decided to try
my luck with a visit out to the hospital. I was already aware
that the UN hospital mandate was to only treat UN staff; sick
expatriates or Timorese could get attention unless life or limb
was threatened. Unfortunately there was a parade on at the time
and had to be content with leaving just a message hope the CO
would call me. Latter that night, he did call and with an offer
that the unit's orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Greg, would be able to
to have a look at Octaviana the next day.
The next day with Octaviana, his mother, Yudi (one of the Timorese
medical students) we arrived at the UN hospital to see the surgeon.
A full work up was done, x-rays, blood tests for malaria, anaemia
and tuberculosis and swabs from the wound taken. After seeing
Octaviana and his x-rays, Dr Greg was concerned that there was
indeed underlying osteomyelitis and organised theatre time to
open the knee and debride infected bone from the infected tibia.
His major worry was whether the growth plate had been damaged
by the chronic infection in which case, Octaviana may suffer from
a deformed leg despite the surgery.
Monday came and we collected Octaviana and his mother and returned
to the UN hospital for the surgery. An early morning snack delayed
the surgery a little but eventually the anaesthetist Dr Jackson
was happy to put him to sleep.
The operating theatre was basically two steel containers bolted
together, the ante room full of boxes of equipment a tent supported
by air filled tubes. Like all the buildings in the hospital it
was much cooler than outside. Theatre staff wore scrub tops over
camouflage pants and army boots. Their Styer rifles left outside
of the theatre in racks, the muzzles covered by the light blue
Octaviana didn't complain as he received his anaesthetic and was
soon asleep. Yudi and Jon had scrubbed in to assist whilst I stood
looked on with the job of taking photos with about five different
cameras. Within a few minutes of starting it became evident that
there was indeed pus in the knee joint and tibial osteomyelitis.
The pus was drained, the knee washed out and the tibia debrided.
Neat sutures rejoined flesh and with the surgery complete, the
anaesthetist stopped the halothane to allow Octaviana to wake
Microbiological testing of samples of the pus from the wound grew
a not so exotic Streptococcus pyogenes making benzylpenicillin
an easy choice of antibiotic. Octaviana did well probably kept
quite by the strange surroundings and cool air-conditioning of
the hospital ward. He needed another operation for a dressing
change a few days latter and everyone was happy with his progress.
The surgeon was even happy that the growth plate had not been
too badly affected by the infection and that maybe his tibia will
grow properly. Eventually he was transferred to the Dili National
Hospital for ongoing antibiotics.
When I left Dili he was doing fine, thanks to the care and attention
of the medical and nursing staff at the UN military hospital.
By Dr. Mark Raines
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David is a quiet 24-year old man from a typically
large Timorese family of seven. He was born in a small fishing
village near Bacau. Alas also typically, he also lost a brother
and sister in childhood to illness. His Mother has since passed
on, but his Father continues to live in the village of his birth.
In February 2000, he suffered from an acute bout of Rheumatic
Fever which left with debilitating heart damage. At the time of
his illness, David was on Ambon island preparing as a future priest
with the Assembly of God Church.
Rheumatic Fever is an important cause of heart damage in many
developing countries. It is a disease afflicting the underprivileged;
those disadvantaged by overcrowding and poor housing. It usually
begins with a streptococcal throat infection. A characteristic
painful, fleeting arthritis affecting the knees or elbows follows
in many. In about half of those affected the heart becomes inflamed
occasionally sufficiently so to cause death at the time. In time
the inflammation will settle but there is often damage to the
hearts valves, typically the important mitral valve in the left
ventricle. Blood flow is compromised leaving the patient breathless
upon exertion and can contribute to a premature death. Rheumatic
Fever can be prevented by improved housing and early detection
and treatment with simple penicillin. Damage to the heart can
be accumulate with repeated infection. It a disease with life-threatening
consequences that has mostly been forgotten about in many parts
When I last saw David he was awaiting his first airplane flight.
This journey to Darwin allowed Dr Ilton to examine him and perform
diagnostic tests such as an echocardiograph that is unavailable
in East Timor. Dr Ilton was able to confirm what Dr Dan and Dr
Jim, had suspect, that the damage to his mitral valve required
surgery. Bairo Pate provides a vital health resource for people
like David who have just recently celebrated their new found independence
from the oppressive Indonesian regime.
He travelled from his sisters wooden unpowered house in the hills
of the western suburbs of to Dili where he has had to make a daily
exhausting climb from the road to the house along what looks like
a goat track. The house has a marvellous vista of the sparkling
waters of Dili harbour and the offshore islands. Behind the house
at the foothills of Timor's mountains, lush with green growth.
David went on to have his life saving surgery in a Sydney private
hospital assisted by donations from Lion's Australia and caring
Australians. He recuperated in Australia with the assistance of
church groups in Sydney and Darwin and has now returned to East
Timor to carry on his pastoral work for his church in Viqueque.
by Dr. Mark Raines
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