A St. Francis doctor delivered a double play, saving two Russian boys born with holes in their hearts on the very same day.
Five-year-olds Kiril Polyansky and Artem Sarafnov suffered from Patent Ductus Arteriosus or PDA, a congenital heart defect that made them too tired to play like most children their age. But thanks to a minimally invasive procedure to correct their congenital conditions, the two boys can now look forward to playing their favorite sports without getting out of breath.
“By using a tiny plug threaded to a catheter inserted through a needle hole in both boys’ legs, we were able to close the holes in their hearts, much like inserting a cork into a bottle,” said Sean Levchuck, MD, chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis. “They were up and about less than 24 hours after receiving the procedure, with no pain and just a band-aid,” added the doctor, who donated his services.
The children’s lifesaving trip to the U.S. was sponsored by Russian Gift of Life, Gift of Life, Inc. and International, and the Interact Club at Manhasset High School, a youth organization connected to the Rotary Club that raised $5,000 to help cover costs for Artem. Members of the club were able to greet both boys on the day they were being discharged from the hospital.
“This truly was a double play for everyone involved in this humanitarian mission. It would never have been possible without our strong partnership with St. Francis,” said Robbie Donno, founder of the Gift of Life. “What began with one child from Uganda has grown into a global effort to help children from around the world who otherwise would not have access to these lifesaving procedures.”
Artem’s mother, Alena, who works for a Russian cable company, said her son dreams of becoming a boxer, and can finally go swimming without feeling tired. Kiril’s mom, Victoria, a bookkeeper, says her son hopes to play hockey one day. Both women can’t express how grateful they are for their sons’ getting a new lease on life and being able to do what most children take for granted—just run around and play.