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Kiwi volunteer medics give 14 youngsters lifesaving heart surgery in Fiji

Fourteen babies and young children have had lifesaving heart surgery in Fiji by a New Zealand medical team.

Thirty medical professionals volunteered to perform the operations with charity group Hearts4Kids. 

The stakes were high in the children's ward at Suva's main hospital where children were given a shot at life.

Chief cardiologist Dr John Wright told 1 NEWS there were "probably half a dozen children who would not survive more than a year or two if we did not operate on them this time".

The youngest child is only a few weeks old and 2.2 kilos.

With life on the line, the New Zealand medical team includes the country's top cardiac surgeons - all volunteers.

"How can we let children in a neighbouring country that's only three hours flight away die of a condition where with one surgery they would survive?"  Dr Kirsten Finucane, paediatric cardiac surgeon said.

Out of the 14 children, 11 were given bypass surgery.

"Be courageous, be adventurous with the equipment you've got, because you can't do the things the same way in New Zealand," Dr Finucane said.

The operations are all lifesaving and life-changing.

"It has been the most mind-blowing experience, and just seeing the kids smile like you," cardiac nurse Jinga Lekinwala said.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said the New Zealand medical team "really care, and people notice that, and people know it, and it contributes hugely to the relationship".

Within two days the children show a huge difference. Despite most having major surgery, spirits are high.

"We run this mission for $80,000 New Zealand dollars. And that's enough money to fly two children to Starship (children's hospital in Auckland). And we do 14 with that amount," Dr Finucane said.

There are 14 Fijian children who now have a future to look forward to.

Thirty medical professionals volunteered to perform the operations for charity group Hearts4Kids. Source: 1 NEWS