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Ten-Month-Old Maksim Has A Heart Defect. Open-Heart Surgery Can Save His Life. Please Help.


Maxim’s family lives in Buryatia, in a small village of about 200 families. Maxim’s parents, their two children, and a grandmother live in a four-room house. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), people in the village lived on a kolkhoz, or collective farm. These no longer exist in Russia.

Maxim’s father, Alexei, formerly worked as a guard in a village 40 miles away. He is currently unemployed, and jobs are scarce. The family survives primarily by eating what they can grow in their kitchen garden; they make dairy products to sell from the milk of their one cow. They receive a small monthly government pension because of Maxim’s heart condition. Their older child, Nikolai, is ten; he attends the local school. Children who want to study beyond the ninth grade must travel to Ulan Ude, the capital city (75 miles away).
Maxim turned blue at birth and had to stay in the hospital for 26 days. He was ultimately diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. His parents were able to visit him every day. After they took him home, he was examined monthly. He was referred to the cardiac center in Novosibirsk, Russia (950 miles away) for treatment. Doctors there told Tanya and Alexei “Nothing can be done.” Tanya comments that they were never told why, and she has never been able to understand what exactly they meant.
Maxim is tiny and can only sit by being propped up. With post-operative physical therapy, the doctors expect he will be walking by the time he is two years old. Despite his frailty, Maxim is alert – he babbles, he plays with toys. He sleeps through the night and eats well.
Tanya was delighted that Dr. Krivoshchekov, Tomsk’s lead pediatric cardiac surgeon, had the benefit of working with the Heart to Heart team to perform the first of Maxim’s two planned operations. Dr. Jim Tweddell, led the surgery to place a central shunt in Maxim’s heart. The shunt creates better blood flow, allowing Maxim to grow bigger and stronger in preparation for his second and final open-heart surgery. Tanya exclaimed, “We are so happy that Heart to Heart is taking care of him – American surgery is great!”
Maxim was released from the PCICU to the step-down unit five days after his surgery. Maxim’s recovery progressed smoothly; after ten days on the ward, on May 7, he was discharged from the hospital

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.

Maksim was successfully operated at the Tomsk Cardiac Center in Siberia on April 26, 2010.

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