The team returned to the UK in October after another successful trip, and were overwhelmed with all the support they received while on the Asian island, helping them to operate on around three critically-sick children per day.
The final surgery of the mission was particularly inspiring. A 23-year-old Sri Lankan man, whose serious heart problems meant he was unable to put on weight, had little chance of surviving prior to his operation. However, after a successful surgery with Dr Conal Austin and local cardio surgeon Tolusha Harischandra, the patient is now on the road to recovery.
Austin said: “The 23-year-old man was suffering from endocarditis [heart valve infection]. When I met him he was such a lovely young man, but he was so desperately sick that I simply had to do him as last case on the 2016 Mission.
“Thanks to successful surgery, he will now start to gain weight and will lead a normal, healthy life, all thanks to those supporters and sponsors who raised money to send the Take Heart team to Sri Lanka.”
Local surgeon Harischandra is now monitoring the patient’s progress and reported: “Our endocarditis patient will be finishing his antibiotic course and be ready to go home soon. As you can see (below) he is looking very pleased with himself!”
Gills and Take Heart chairman Paul Scally, took the time to thank those who made the trip possible and praised the amazing skills of the team.
"Many thanks to Sri Lankan Airlines for their sponsorship of Take Heart, and thanks to all the Gills fans and sponsors who have made this trip possible,” said the chairman. “The Take Heart Team are absolutely fantastic and their life-saving medical skills are outstanding."
In October 2016 a group of doctors, surgeons and nurses from the Evelina Children's Hospital in London travelled to Sri Lanka to perform lifesaving operations and help teach medical staff.
The aim of the 2016 Take Heart Mercy was to provide an expert team of cardiac surgical, anaesthetic and intensive care personnel to perform operations on children with congenital cardiac conditions, and to manage the intensive care unit until the patients are fit and stable enough to be discharged into a regular hospital ward.