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HomeL., Dasha 2012

Three-Year-Old Dasha Has Her Third Heart Surgery. She Will Need a Valve Replacement When She Grows Up.


Dasha lives with her parents, Anya and Oleg, and two older siblings: her sister Diana, who is 14, and her brother Roma, who is 10. 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.

Dasha’s parents’ faith and their tenacity in seeking treatment for their daughter has been rewarded. She is a charming, active child with a delightful sense of humor. Anya reports that Dasha has developed normally in every way. On the children’s ward, we find her sitting in a large dollhouse serving tea to dolls and stuffed animals.
Heart to Heart medical volunteer Dr. Stuart Berger performs an interventional catheterization to widen the narrowed areas of Dasha’s pulmonary artery branches, removing obstruction of blood flow. Tomsk specialists consult with Heart to Heart cardiologists on Dasha’s case to confirm her future medical treatment plan: She will continue to come to the Center for annual follow up; as she grows, she will require subsequent pulmonary valve replacement. Dasha’s prospects are good, especially given her young age and emerging new technologies such as catheter-based valve replacement.

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

Dasha's third surgery was successfully completed at the Tomsk Cardiac Center in Siberia on April 3, 2012.

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