Over the past 10 years, specialists from the Evelina have saved literally hundreds of young lives in Sri Lanka. They give up part of their annual holiday allocation to travel to the Karapitiya Teaching hospital in Galle, for up to two weeks' of long days and concentrated, demanding effort.
The Teaching Hospital Karapitiya is the largest Tertiary care centre in Southern Province and was established in 1982. Every year a team of medical specialists from the Evelina Children's Hospital in London take their expertise to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka. Children, ranging from tiny babies to young teens, are referred there from other hospitals throughout the south-western corner of the country for life-saving operations by the Take Heart team.
Galle itself is a coastal city, about 120km from the capital Colombo, and has a population of about 100,000. It is renowned for its beaches and history and was devasted by the tsunami disaster on Boxing Day 2004, caused by a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, 1,00 miles away. Thousands were killed in the city alone.
On the occasion of the first visit, the team had performed about 13 surgeries on poor children with congenital heart disease. This was a big step towards solving the ever increasing waiting lists for children in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka does not have many medics of such calibre coming into the country as a complete team, the intregrated teamwork has produced good results as reflected in the past missions. The Take Heart team have demonstrated the commitment they have to the charity and the people of Sri Lanka by their regular visits in spite of some of the hurdles they have had to clear on some occasions.