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Children arrive for vital surgery
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Doctors carry out checks on Cheng Meili, a child from Anhui Province who will undergo surgery for congenital heart disease as part of the China Heart Hope project helping children from needy families.

Eleven children from Anhui Province came to Shanghai yesterday for surgery as part of a project which is sponsoring 100 children from poor families who are suffering from congenital heart disease.

Launched by China Poverty Alleviation and Development Association, Children's Hope Welfare Foundation under China Association of Social Work and Shanghai Yodak Cardio Hospital, the project - China Heart Hope - seeks to help children and arouse public awareness.

Seven to eight children of every 1,000 babies born in the country suffer congenital heart disease. About 150,000 to 200,000 children are born with the disease every year.

"About half of congenital heart diseases can be cured if undergoing proper surgery in time," said Zhang Xinli, president of Shanghai Yodak Cardio Hospital. "The cost of 50,000 (US$6,757) to 100,000 yuan can't be afforded by many poor families. Delaying treatment can worsen the disease and even kill the children."

Under the project, most of the medical expenses are shared by parents, the associations and the hospital. For those in extreme poverty, the project takes care of the entire cost.

Chen Huaxu, a farmer from Suzhou in Anhui Province, said his five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with heart disease when five months old. "We couldn't afford surgery," Chen said. "After hearing about the project, we applied immediately. Fortunately, she came to Shanghai this time for surgery."

(Shanghai Daily November 30, 2007)

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