Dr. Christo Tchervenkov of the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC puts his heart into establishing new organization
The inaugural scientific meeting of the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery will take place in Washington, D.C., on May 3 and 4. Three hundred of the world’s top pediatric practitioners and surgeons will attend. This society was founded thanks to the vision and efforts of Dr. Christo Tchervenkov, cardiac surgeon at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC and President of the World Society. Dr. Richard A. Jonas, pediatric cardiac surgeon, Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., will host this historic meeting.
The purpose of the society is to promote the highest quality, comprehensive cardiac care to all patients with congenital cardiac disease, from the fetus to the adult, regardless of economic means, and with an emphasis on excellence in teaching, research and community service.
“In the Western world, children born with congenital heart malformations are treated and most go on to lead normal lives. We know how to fix heart malformations. But despite our knowledge and skill level, some 90% of children born with heart defects have no access or inadequate access to care. These children live in underdeveloped countries. This situation has to change and it can change, if we pool our resources,” says Dr. Tchervenkov.
Dr. Tchervenkov, or Dr. T as his many patients and their parents affectionately call him, foresees the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery will:
- Gather data on the exact number of children with heart defects (right now the rough estimate is 0.8% of every 1,000 live births, or about a million children a year
- Access the level of care available in all parts of the world (in Canada, we know there are 14 pediatric cardiac surgeons and 250 in the U.S. But what about in the third world, there is absolutely no data available)
- Coordinate the education of surgeons and health teams
- Establish regional centres that will provide teaching and training.
Dr. Tchervenkov explains the World Society’s goal is not to merely bring children to North America or Europe for cardiac surgery, nor to send surgeons from these regions to underdeveloped countries. “This type of humanitarian heath care isn’t sustainable; it’s a few drops here and a few drops there. I want to change the paradigm,” he says. “As human beings we need to help each other, but this doesn’t mean the western world has sole responsibility. Underdeveloped countries have to do their part. We need to teach and educate and empower the health professionals in developing countries, not just swoop in and do the work for them.”
While there are many different societies and associations to which pediatric cardiac surgeons belong, none of these organizations, however, encompasses the entire planet. “The reasoning underscoring the formation of a World Society is to create a democratic forum for pediatric and congenital heart surgeons from all continents, permitting those from the less well developed or less well represented areas to interact in professional fashion and as equals with their colleagues practicing in North America and Europe,” says Dr. Jonas.
Members of the World Society for Pediatric Congenital Heart Surgery will meet every two years in various regions of the world. The 2009 conference is already scheduled to take place in Australia. Between international meetings, small subcommittees will work on the World Society’s various initiatives.
For more information on the World Society: www.wspchs.com.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of the McGill University Health Centre. This institution is a leader in the care and treatment of sick infants, children and adolescents from across Quebec. The Montreal Children’s Hospital provides a high level and broad scope of health care services, and provides ultra specialized care in many fields including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery, traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages.