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One-Year-Old Dasha Has A Heart Defect. Open-Heart Surgery Can Save Her Life. Please Help.


Dasha lives with her parents, Anya and Oleg, and two older siblings: her sister Diana, who is 12, and her brother Roma, who is 8. The family lives in Novokuznetsk, the administrative center of the Kemerovo Province in Siberia. Anya is a stay-at-home mother; Oleg is a taxi driver. 

From the 1930s until the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), Novokuznetsk was a major coal mining and industrial center that attracted workers from all across the Soviet Union.

Anya’s gynecologist detected the baby’s heart defect in utero, and recommended that she terminate the pregnancy, asking, “Why do you need such a child?” (Anya cries as she recalls the conversation, clearly still very upset by it.) After Anya and Oleg discussed the situation thoughtfully, they decided not to terminate the pregnancy. 

When Dasha was three months old, a local cardiologist referred them to Novosibirsk (200 miles away) for a full examination and diagnosis. The doctors in Novosibirsk were unable to treat Dasha because, as Anya recalls, the heart center there had used up the annual quota which allows them to treat out-of-region patients gratis. Dasha’s local cardiologist suggested Anya and Oleg seek treatment for Dasha in Tomsk. 

The family first arrived in Tomsk in November 2009. One week after her diagnosis, the first of two staged open-heart surgeries was successfully performed on Dasha. The Tomsk team recommended scheduling her second, and more complicated, operation during Heart to Heart’s surgical-educational mission in April 2010. 

The Russian Assistance Fund paid for Dasha’s medical care and transportation costs. Oleg drove the family car on the six-hour drive to Tomsk (250 miles). 

On April 22, the joint Heart to Heart-Tomsk team successfully performed Dasha’s open-heart surgery. Baby Dasha’s prognosis is very good.

Anya comments that she was comforted by meeting the other parents on the pediatric cardiac ward. She adds, “Patient families make friends easily, and we keep in touch.” 

Based on an interview conducted in Tomsk, in Russian, by Heart to Heart volunteer Rose Glickman, PhD.

For more about the Heart to Heart medical missions to Tomsk that Russian Gift of Life, USA helps to sponsor, please click here.

Dasha was successfully operated at the Tomsk Cardiac Center in Siberia on April 22, 2010.

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