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Urge U.S. Navy to Show Mercy for Timorese Heart Patients

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"Give A Heart of Ila And Others In East Timor!"

Those needing heart surgery in East Timor have little chance of surviving. Currently, there are no facilities for heart surgery in the country and there are long waits to go to Australia, where volunteer surgeons are willing to help.

One of those waiting for treatment is Ila, an eight year-old girl with severe mitral valve disease. If she is not treated, she has no chance of reaching adulthood.

In August, the US Navy Hospital ship, USNS Mercy, will visit East Timor for two weeks. Medical Aid for East Timor and Dr. Dan Murphy of the Timor's Bairo Pite Clinic are urging the Navy Sealift Command to permit a volunteer team of heart surgeons from Australia to use one of the ship's 12 operating theaters to provide treatment to East Timorese with heart problems.These services are available in Australia, but traveling to Australia is expensive, time consuming, and involves complicated visa and immigration paperwork. East Timor's national hospital in East Timor will have heart surgery facilities by next year, but alternatives are needed to alleviate the suffering of heart patients.

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The Mercy has the facilities and resources to help these patients. Medical Aid for East Timor is urging members of Congress and the U.S. Navy Sealift Command to allow the Australian surgeons to operate so heart patients like Ila will have the chance to live a full life.

The hospital ship is scheduled to reach East Timor on August 6. For more information see here.


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John M. Miller is National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). He is Treasurer of the War Resisters League.

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