Many tots must travel for surgery

About 1,000 infants are born every year in Greece with congenital heart defects that require surgery, with some 20 percent forced to go abroad for the operation, doctors said yesterday. «Out of these children, between 700 and 800 will need to undergo surgery either as newborns or at some stage as infants or in their childhood. At the Onassis we perform about about 250 operations for those with a heart condition,» Giorgos Sarris, head of the Department of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, told Kathimerini. Greece public health facilities cannot meet demand for such operations, forcing many parents to seek hospitals abroad for their children. Doctors at the Aghia Sophia children’s hospital operate on about 200 infants annually. Sarris said that the cost of an operation in a hospital abroad – normally one in Great Britain – costs -38,000 compared to -9,000 at the Onassis. «We are prepared to work with hospitals and social security funds in order to help stop the flow of young patients abroad,» he added.