Congenital heart disease is a major killer in children under five years of age. It is estimated that 2,500-3,000 children are born with a congenital heart disease every year in Sri Lanka. Most of them will need either surgical or catheter based treatment within the first year of their life. Unless treated in a timely manner some of them will not live to see their first birthday and a majority will die before they reach adulthood.
Treatment of heart diseases in children should be performed in highly specialized centers and currently only a very few government and private sector hospitals are equipped to perform such surgeries in Sri Lanka. Such a procedure generally costs approximately Rs. 400,000 – 700,000 in private sector but is done totally free of charge in government hospitals.
Currently, more than 90% of children with congenital and acquired heart diseases in Sri Lanka are treated at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH) located within the country’s capital, Colombo. Currently, they perform approximately 650 catheter based interventions and 900 cardiac surgeries every year.
Many families travel from far away cities in Sri Lanka to get their child treated at LRH, Colombo and spend several weeks or months to get treatment for their seriously ill child. The mothers who need to be closer to their sick child find it difficult to stay inside the hospital once the child is put in to the ICU after a heart surgery. The administration of the hospital understood the problem but it could never be addressed because of the other priorities. Avant Garde “ Sahana Piyasa” is that “home-away-from-home” for the mothers so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at no cost.
Sahana Piyasa is situated very close to Lady Ridgway Hospital Borella (less than 100 m ) and gives accommodation to 20 mothers who have come from faraway. The house gives protection, care and moral support to the families and gives them the space and freedom to live till their child is safe and healthy.