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November 2010

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East Timorese teen Flavia Guterres with Professor Richard Harper and Warrnambool cardiologist Dr Noel Bayley, who helped raise funds for her trip.

Aussies show their heart

An East Timorese teenager given a life-saving medical procedure in Australia has thanked her medical team and the Australian public for helping to save her life.

Flavia Lucilda Guterres, 19, has flown home to East Timor following a specialised heart procedure that has given her a second chance at life.

Ms Guterres suffers from mitral stenosis, the narrowing of a heart valve that can lead to congestive heart failure.

Cardiologist Professor Richard Harper and his team at Southern Health’s Monash Heart volunteered to operate on Ms Guterres – following an extraordinary outpouring of generosity by Australians who donated money to fly her here.

‘I cannot express how happy I am to have this opportunity,’ Ms Guterres said.

‘Before this operation, I was so weak I could not walk more than a few steps and the doctors told me that I did not have much longer to live.

‘Now, I am looking forward to getting back to finishing my high school certificate so that I can fulfil my ambition of becoming a nurse.’

Professor Harper said the Ms Guterres’ procedure was routine in western countries but unavailable in East Timor, where there is a lack of specialised healthcare facilities.