The Bern Inselspital hospital and the children’s charity Terre des hommes (Tdh) are forming a humanitarian alliance known as “Helping children’s hearts”. Since the end of 2011, the Inselspital has been performing heart surgery on Tdh children. After 50 years, the specialised medical treatment provided by Switzerland’s largest children’s charity is now also becoming established in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
For the past fifty years, Terre des hommes – Child relief (Tdh) has been organising operations in European hospitals for children with heart problems from Africa and the Middle East. The children often cannot be treated in their own countries due to a lack of highly specialised infrastructure and trained staff. In Switzerland, the specialised medical treatments provided by Tdh have been carried out in cooperation with the Geneva and Lausanne university hospitals for many years. On the other hand, Terre des hommes also sends teams of doctors to the southern hemisphere so that more treatment can be administered onsite.
With the addition of the Bern University Hospital, Terre des hommes – Switzerland’s largest children’s charity with projects in more than 30 countries – now has its first hospital partner in the German-speaking part of Switzerland for its aid project. Operations are carried out on carefully selected Tdh children by the team led by paediatric heart surgeon Professor Alexander Kadner in the Centre for Congenital Heart Defects. The children are given intensive medical and nursing care in the University Clinic for Paediatrics. Both before and after their time in hospital, the children stay at the Tdh children’s home “La Maison de Massongex” in Lower Valais.
The cooperative agreement was signed at the end of 2011. At almost the same point in time, the first Tdh children – two girls from Iraq aged eight and ten – were operated on in Bern. At a media conference in Bern on 6 March, Peter Brey, CEO of Terre des hommes, and Professor Thierry Carrel, director and head surgeon of the University Clinic for Cardiovascular Surgery at the Inselspital, gave a positive report on the start of the project. The concept of corrective surgery with intensive primary medical care taking place at the university hospital and the pre- and post-operative care being provided in the Tdh children’s home has proven viable for Bern as well.
Endowments and the sale of oranges
Cardiac surgeon Professor Thierry Carrel thanked the Inselspital Foundation for the initial financing of 3.6 million Swiss francs. The Tdh sale of oranges, which has been a tradition for 50 years and is currently underway all over Switzerland, is also a means of raising funds for the specialised medical treatment provided in Bern, Geneva and Lausanne. Tdh project director Carlos Royo hopes “that together we can give as many children as possible the chance to have a normal and healthy life in their own countries.”
The Tdh project is not the first or only aid project to originate at the Inselspital. Numerous hospital teams and individuals are volunteering today in around a dozen aid projects in the same number of countries.