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Helping Sick Children in Financial Need



The Newly Established Brave Heart Fund

Thanks to the efforts of one family, there now exists at the AUB Medical Center a fund to help families whose infants are suffering from heart disease.

The family who set up this fund had a baby who was born with a heart defect. They came to AUBMC’s Children’s Heart Center and met with Dr. Fadi Bitar. Bitar, a pediatric cardiologist and an associate professor of pediatrics, diagnosed the child's heart problem.  The child underwent open-heart surgery and is now enjoying the life of a normal and healthy one-year-old boy.
In one of the most difficult times imaginable to
parents—coping with how to save the life of their child—this family saw an opportunity to establish a fund to provide financial assistance to other parents in
a similar situation who are less fortunate. The Brave Heart Fund was established with an initial gift from the family. An additional $45,000 was raised from over 150 individuals who made contributions in support of the child’s father, who ran in last year’s Beirut Marathon, as well as from a family friend who ran in the Dubai Marathon in January of this year. The Brave Heart Fund will be a regular recipient of proceeds from future Beirut Marathon events.
“We consider ourselves so fortunate,” says the child’s mother. “We were able to ensure that our child got the care he needed. Many families do not have the means to pay for such medical care. And we want to work with others in order to help as many children as we can.” The monies that have been raised so far are already being used to help other families pay for the care their children need.
In talking about the case, Dr. Bitar explains that a child’s heart should form completely during the first six weeks of pregnancy, but in some cases the heart fails to form completely or properly. When this happens, the child is born with a congenital heart defect. “With surgical and non-surgical procedures, we are now able to correct most congenital heart defects,” says Bitar. He notes that congenital heart defects are the most common of birth defects and are the leading cause of death during the child’s first year of life.
The Children’s Heart Center is a special unit for treating children with heart disease. With Dr. Mounir Obeid, an associate professor of surgery, and Dr. Bitar as its co-directors, the center offers state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. These include the non-surgical use of catheters, balloons, and stents to dilate narrowed heart valves or arteries and special umbrella devices to close a hole between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. Many heart defects can only be corrected by surgery.
More than 600 babies are born in Lebanon each year with heart defects. With the proper care, most of these children can be saved. Bitar is grateful that he and his colleagues at the Children’s Heart Center will now be able to heal more of those children.
The Brave Heart Fund is one of the first public-driven patient funds to be established at AUBMC. It will not be the last. Inspired by the success of this initiative, similar funding drives will be undertaken to encourage all of us to help provide care for the children who need it.

 

 

Sons Pay Tribute to Their Father’s Legacy

In honor of their father, the sons of Dr. Karekin G. Tabourian have made a generous gift to AUB to equip, expand, and name its dentofacial unit in the Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) at the AUB Medical Center. Prompted by their gratitude and appreciation for the support that AUB provided to their father when he was a student at AUB, His Excellency Andre K. Tabourian, former member of Parliament, and Dr. Gerard K. Tabourian were looking for an opportunity “to reunite our father’s name and his dental legacy with the institution that he was proud to be associated with as a student and teacher.” As the Tabourians explained, “In 1915, our father became an orphan after he lost his parents in the genocide perpetrated by the Ottomans on the Armenian people. With AUB’s help and assistance, he was able to get through college and dental school. By honoring our father we feel that we also pay homage to the memory of our ancestors.” In addition to recognizing a remarkable man, their generous gift establishes the Karekin G. Tabourian Dentofacial Clinic.
Dr. Karekin Tabourian graduated from AUB’s School of Dentistry in 1923. After spending a brief period of time in Syria, he returned to Lebanon and joined the faculty of the University’s School of Dentistry, where he remained until it closed its doors in 1940. Although it existed for only thirty years, the School of Dentistry has a proud history. As Dr. Joseph Ghafari, head of the Division of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics in the OHNS Department, says: “AUB introduced dental education to Lebanon and this part of the world. AUB-trained dentists went on to establish successful practices all over the world.” According to him, the Tabourian gift is being used in part to purchase state-of-the-art equipment (including the digital imaging machines and associated software needed for facial and dental imaging) that will support both clinical treatment and research. The imaging program itself, which allows doctors to model a patient’s face, will aid in both diagnosis and treatment planning.
An integral part of the new Dentofacial Clinic is its Face Center. Headed by Dr. Nabil Fuleihan, chairman of the OHNS Department, this orthodontics unit provides multidisciplinary treatment to patients suffering from oral and maxillofacial dysmorphologies or anomalies, such as cleft lip and palate. Orthodontics complements other activities provided by specialists from a number of disciplines, including facial plastic and cosmetic surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, otolaryngology, and head and neck surgery. Dr. Ghafari points out that this coordinated team approach is more efficient and provides patients with more comprehensive long-term care. Although the change in an individual’s outward appearance may be the most obvious result of treatment, the patients seeking care are interested in much more than just a prettier smile. In many cases, these anomalies affect the individual’s ability to eat, speak clearly, or even breathe.
Although the gift of Andre and Gerard Tabourian (who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a well-known dentist) has given an enormous boost to dentistry at AUB, there is still much to be done. Dr. Ghafari talks, in particular, about wanting to care for more of the children who have debilitating orofacial conditions and so desperately need treatment—especially those who come from underprivileged families and cannot afford to pay for that treatment. “Thanks to the
generosity of the Tabourian family, we are getting the equipment we need,” he says. “Now it is up to all of us to build on this gift.”