Bairo Pite Clinic


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.

Current Patients

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 back.

To view a photo gallery of Maria and these other patients in need of life-saving surgery, click here.

For a closer look at some of the patients currently in the clinic, please visit the Patients photo gallery.


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 the operation.

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 possible.

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 been halted.

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Cesaltina's Heart Operation in Sydney

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 months.

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 UN caps.

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 up.

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 of Australia.

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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Bairo Pite Clinic
Tel: +670 3324118

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