Cyclone Pam flattened 6-month-old Christine’s home

Christine with her mother Marie with President of the Remuera Rotary Club.

When Christine’s home was flattened after cyclone Pam and she required urgent surgery for a serious heart condition ROMAC organised that she was flown to Auckland one week later with a medical escort.

Christine, from Port Vila, Vanuatu had suffered pneumonia in December 2014, was very underweight for her age and not developing as could be expected. She was further diagnosed to have heart defects at the time of being referred to ROMAC in January. More particularly her heart problems were suspected to included a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Her condition was regarded to be of such seriousness as to require urgent treatment under the ROMAC scheme.

Christine’s home was flattened after cyclone Pam and her state of health was such that it was considered inadvisable for her to fly without a medical escort and Dr. Nicola Culliford-Semmens of the Starship Cardiological Team volunteered and made a round trip, Auckland – Port Vila – Auckland, for the express purpose of caring for Christine. At this time the aftermath of cyclone Pam precluded any doctors from Vanuatu accompanying Christine on the flight to Auckland.

Christine and her Mum Marie were accommodated at Ronald McDonald House and whilst in Auckland members of the Remuera Rotary Club provided support to Christine and her Marie.

Open heart surgery occurred on April 7th at the Starship Hospital and the closure of the VSD and ligation of the PDA was most successful.

Post operation, in light of her generally fragile condition, Christine was kept under the care of the paediatric intensive care unit for 4 days before moving to the Hospital’s children’s cardiac ward.

Christine did however recover well from her surgery, demonstrating an increase in appetite and weight, reflecting a very happy and contented child.

Baby Christine returned home in Vanuatu as an active child in good health thanks to the in depth diagnosis of her heart condition and corrective surgery provided by the team at Starship Children’s Hospital.

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