East Timor Hearts Fund successfully reaches $20,000 target

Bright future: East Timorese teen Alia Borges will have heart surgery in Australia after $20,000 was raised in less than 20 days to fund the lifesaving operation. Picture: Hugh Miley

Bright future: East Timorese teen Alia Borges will have heart surgery in Australia after $20,000 was raised in less than 20 days to fund the lifesaving operation. Picture: Hugh Miley

East Timorese teen Alia Borges will have lifesaving heart surgery thanks to the generosity of south-west residents.

Warrnambool cardiologist Dr Noel Bayley set an ambitious goal to raise $20,000 in 20 days to fund open heart surgery.

Four days shy of the October 17 deadline, the amount was raised via an online crowd funding campaign. 

Alia, 15, has critical rheumatic heart disease and Dr Bayley said when the campaign launched that surgery in Australia was her only hope.

From the beginning people showed their support for the fundraiser which was launched on Tuesday, September 27. In the first six days more than $11,000 was raised. 

The East Timor Hearts Fund co-founder and honorary medical adviser has carried out pro bono work in the country for the past 15 years.

Dr Bayley said he was “absolutely stunned” by people’s generosity and thanked his friends, patients, former patients and south-west colleagues for their support. 

"Every day, people are coming in to my surgery to drop off their donations, as well as donating online,” Dr Bayley said. 

 “Helping this lass to live will be a blessing to her and her family, but will also support a young woman who has the potential to make a real contribution to her nation in the future,” he said.

"The response is very touching, not only for me, as someone who has done this work in Timor-Leste for 15 years, but for Alia, a young woman who wants to be a doctor and has so much to live for,” he said. 

"Thank you sincerely to everyone who has supported the campaign for Alia,” he said. “I look forward to getting back to Warrnambool and to saying thanks in person."

Alia will be operated on in Australia before the end of year and the fund will provide flights, accommodation, food, clothes and other needs. 

Patient support volunteers will provide hospital visits, Timorese food and other social support while Alia is in Australia.

The fundraising page will remain active until 11.58am Monday. To donate go to chuffed.org/project/mendaliasbrokenheart

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