Inaugural meeting of World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery to be held in D.C. this week

May 1, 2007

Dr. Christo Tchervenkov of the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC puts his heart into establishing new organization

The inaugural scientific meeting of the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery took place in Washington, D.C. on May 3 and 4. Over 420 of the world’s top pediatric practitioners and surgeons attended.

The Vision of the World Society is that every child born anywhere in the world with a congenital heart defect should have access to appropriate medical and surgical care. The Mission of the World Society is to promote the highest quality comprehensive cardiac care to all patients with pediatric and/or congenital heart disease, from the fetus to the adult, regardless of the patient’s economic means, with an emphasis on excellence in education, research and community service.

“In the Western world, children born with congenital heart malformations are treated and most go on to lead normal lives. We know how to fix heart malformations. But despite our knowledge and skill level, many of the children born in the world with heart defects have no access or inadequate access to care. This situation has to change and it can change, if we all work together,” says Dr. Christo Tchervenkov, cardiac surgeon at The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Center and President of the World Society. 

The World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery will:

  • Gather data on the exact number of children for with heart defects (right now the rough estimate is 0.8% of every 1000 live births or about a million children a year
  • Access the level of care available in all parts of the world (in Canada, we know there are 14 pediatric cardiac surgeons and 250 in the U-S. But what about in the third world, there is limited data available)
  • Coordinate the education of surgeons and health teams
  •  Establish regional centres that will provide teaching and training.

The World Society’s goal is not to merely bring children to North America or Europe for cardiac surgery, nor to send trained surgeons to underdeveloped countries. “This type of humanitarian health care simply isn’t enough; it’s a few drops here and a few drops there. We want to change the paradigm,” says Dr. Tchervenkov. “As human beings we need to help each other, but this doesn’t mean the western world has sole responsibility. Underdeveloped countries have to do their part. We need to teach and educate and empower the health professionals in developing countries, not just swoop in and do the work for them.”

While there are many different societies and associations to which pediatric cardiac surgeons belong, none of these organizations, however, encompasses the entire planet.

The inaugural meeting of the World Society was hosted by Dr. Richard A. Jonas, chief of cardiac surgery at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. “Our hope is that the World Society serves as a democratic forum for pediatric and congenital heart surgeons from all continents, permitting those from the less developed, or less represented, areas to interact in a professional fashion and as equals with their colleagues practicing in North America and Europe,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, a cardiac surgeon from Saint Petersburg and Tampa Florida at The Congenital Heart Institute of Florida (CHIF) and Secretary of the World Society.

Members of the World Society for Pediatric Congenital Heart Surgery will meet every two years in various regions of the world. The 2009 conference is already scheduled to take place in Australia. Between international meetings, small subcommittees will work on the World Society’s various initiatives.

For more information on the World Society