yle.fi July 6, 2015
The lion's share of children from Estonia who require rare heart operations are treated in Helsinki. The international co-operation is mutually beneficial for both countries.
Edgar Kossorotov, aged two and a half, recently underwent his third heart operation, this time at Helsinki’s Children’s Hospital, a couple hundred kilometres away from his home in Varna, Estonia.
The hospital boasts the Nordic region’s largest children’s surgical centre, carrying out some 330 heart operations annually.
Edgar's congenital cardiac disorder is life-threatening if left untreated.
“If this surgery wasn’t done now, then by the time he reached the age of 13, he could only be saved with a transplant,” his mother Nadezhda Kossorotova told Yle. It’s also a rare condition, accounting for some one percent of all heart disorders.
These days almost all rare Estonian heart procedures are performed across the gulf in Helsinki. This has so far only added up to about 20 children in the past few years.
The operations are costly at many tens of thousands of euros, but the bill is footed by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Edgar's mother says her family could never have paid off the gigantic sum.
The international collaboration is mutually beneficial. With Estonia's small population, organising such operations there would not make financial sense, while Finland needs more patients for its high-end equipment and expertise to be properly utilised.
A few bum tickers are healed each year in Helsinki, and the clinics here aim to bring in more. Surgeon Ilkka Mattila says that those few Estonian children who now make the trip to Berlin to fix their rare heart problems will increasingly be directed to Finland. That will become even easier after the new Children's Hospital opens in the Meilahti district in 2017.
Estonian children's heart surgery increasingly performed in Finland