4 Jan 2017
Report from the Chairman of the Oxonian Heart Foundation for 2016

This current year (2016) has been a time of consolidation and concentration on educational, infection control and clinical governance aspects of providing a modern and safe health care environment to the patients. The 'knock on ' effects of the introduction of cardiac surgery to the Northern Central Hospital Jaffna has lead to the raising of standards generally. More specifically the achievement of being supported by funding from the Presidents Fund has also taken the clinical program forwards.


1. Over fifty cardiac surgical procedures have now been undertaken in Jaffna. Four patients,including two with congenital heart disease have had totally free procedure while several of the others have been subsidised to a grater or lesser extent by the OHF or NCH.

We must congratulate and celebrate the generous donors to the OHF and the staff of the NCH in this achievement. 


2. The OHF set up a modular six month course for nurses covering the major part of the role of nursing and the knowledge requirement to look after patients with cardiac and related conditions. We have been supported by the Nursing school at the Jaffna teaching hospital in this endeavour. Nurses on the course are limited to fifteen per course and provided with a certificate on satisfactory completion.



3. A targeted 'educational' donation has enabled the appointment of a 'Matron' in charge of clinical standards and education. The appointee is  a very senior nurse with experience in Sri Lanka in the government and private sectors. She also has worked abroad for a period of eight years.


4. Generous support from the British Council in Sri Lanka has provide an opportunity to ten students to improve their written and spoken skills in the English language. The classes are conducted at the British Council in Jaffna. 



5. Dr K Gnakanthan, consultant cardiac surgeon, has joined the board of trustees of the Oxonian Heart Foundation in Sri Lanka. Amongst other centres he was a trainee surgeon, as the overseas Fellow, at the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford in the mid 2000s.


28 Dec 2015
Chairman's message:

We have awaited the delivery of several developments to bring them all together for this 2015 update. The following headings bring together the achievements for the year and provide a platform for 2016.

Presidents Funding for Cardiac Surgery at the NCH: Following inspection by the Private Hospitals Commission the OHF facilitated the progress of the positive recommendation made by them through the Ministry of Health and the Presidential secretariat.
We have recently obtained the support of the President’s Fund to the tune of Rs200,000.00 per patient. This will greatly facilitate our service delivery.

Teaching and Training:

The teaching and training is the heart of providing a cardiothoracic surgical service. The Oxonian Heart Foundation well recognised this criteria and raise funding to support this. It took the first initiative in 2013, well before they start the cardiac service at the Northern Central Hospital. Dr Ravi Pillai gave the initial introduction lecture for a group of approximately 30 nurses from the Northern Central Hospital (NCH).

Ms Wendy Allen, a cardiac intensive care sister and tutor at the Oxford University Hospital and Ms Shirley Janas, clinical sister at the Oxford University Hospital and a previous research nurse to Mr Ravi Pillai contributed to the teaching and training. Ms Allen spent 8 weeks at the initial stage of developing cardiac surgical service at the NCH, particularly focusing on developing protocols. Ms Janas has been continuing her service for over six months in charge of the cardiac intensive care team and also contributing significantly to the teaching and training.

Ms Janas successfully managed to create a intensive care team, mainly focusing on the cardiac surgical service. The team currently consists of twelve nurses.  Following the departure of the Oxford team the local team has continued to look after post surgical patients including two emergency procedures transferred from the General Hospital. This team is crucial in teaching and maintain sustainability by ensuing transfer of knowledge for other new nurses, who would be recruited into the system as the program expands.

Recent examples of teaching and training  

Further to work with the NCH, the OHF is also engaged in promoting cardiac service in Sri Lanka. Mr Ravi Pillai has given an invited talk, organised by the Jaffna Medical Association. The title of the talk was Mitral Valve Repair: to ring or not.
The OHF sponsored a talk to the cardiac community at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on the Haemodymics of mechanical and tissue valves. Cardiologists and Cardiac surgeons attended this. Professor Ajith Yoganathan, Professor of Biomedical engineering at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The students of Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna have been visiting and watching cardiac surgery at the NCH. The OHF provides opportunities to medical students to observe cardiac surgery and to encourage interest in this speciality. We have also been providing tutorials for small groups of students in their final year.

Clinical Activity:

We have performed around thirty procedures and should accelerate in the future with the support of the President’s Fund. This included two emergencies from the teaching hospital a thirty year old woman and a twelve-year-old girl, who certainly would not not have survived the long journey to a centre in Kandy or Colombo. These two emergencies, along with the first case (16 year old girl had a patch closure of ASD) were done with no cost to the patient.

One of the OHF Trustees and Chairman of the Northern Central Hospital Mr S Ponnusamy underwent successful valve and by pass surgery three months ago at the NCH.

Donor News:

The OHF as always is most grateful to all our donors and supporters. In the past twelve months contributions from the following are acknowledged:

1. SLMANA for the donation of a sternal saw costing in excess of Rs2million.

2. Ms Shahila Perumalpillai, Dr M Sritharan and wife Sugandi of Michigan, and the Mills family for funding a patient.

3.The corporate sector in Sri Lanka including Central Finance Corporation, Carson Cumberbatch.

19 Nov 2014
Oxonian Heart Foundation achievements

The Oxonian Heart Foundation has performed 16 heart operations to date and is continuing to save lives.  See feature story

12 Nov 2014
Successful operation for 12 year old girl


Demographic Data

S.Mary Denistela, 12 year old girl, born in Malavi in 2002.Currently she is pursuing her studies at Roman Catholic Tamil mixed school grade 7.

Family history

Mary Denistelais the youngest in the family with 5 other siblings. Her father works as a fisherman with an income of 500 rupees (£2.40) on a good day. Her mother is a house -wife.  Currently staying at Valaipadu, Veravil, Poonagari.

Past history 

During routine checkup at school, she was found to have a cardiac murmur.  She was referred to a Paediatrician at District Government Hospital Kilinochchi. Subsequently she was sent to the Teaching Hospital Jaffna for an echocardiogram.

Echocardiogram showed a large ostium secundum atrial septal defect and mild pulmonary stenosis.

Present history

She was admitted to the cardiology unit at Teaching Hospital Jaffna on 28th Oct, 2014 for device closure on 29th Oct 2014.  Attempted ASD closure with device. However device was dislodged.

Subsequently she was transferred from Teaching Hospital Jaffna to Northern Hospital Jaffna for ventilator support and further management.  The device was removed from the left atrium and closure of ASD was done with a pericardial patch by Dr. Ravi Perumalpillai(Consultant Cardiac Surgeon) on 29th Oct 2014. Postoperative recovery was uneventful.  Post op echocardiogram done on the 30th Oct 2014 showed no pericardial effusion, no pleural effusion, ASD patch in situ, no residual leak, no mitral regurgitation and good ventricular function.

She was then transferred from the ICU to General ward on 31st Oct. Currently she is recuperating well.


Kajeepan .K

Cardiac Nurse Specialist

Oxonian Heart Foundation

25 Aug 2014
Jaffna Youth Cycle to Save a Heart

At 7AM on the 15th of August 2014, sixty Jaffna university students set off from their campus to Colombo in bicycles. This was no ordinary backpacking group of youth. They were embarking on an exhaustive journey for the benefit of those living in the North and North Eastern Provinces. Under the title of “Cycle for Life,” the students cycled 400+ kilometres to raise funds for the Oxonian Heart Foundation (OHF) – a charity that is working to establish cardiac care in the Northern Province and the surrounding areas.

From Jaffna, the cyclists travelled a total of 140 kilometres to Vavuniya, where they spent the 15th night and subsequently on the 16th set off to Kurunegala, which was another 181 kilometres away. After spending the 16th night in Kurunegala, the cyclists travelled another 93 kilometres to the finish point at the Royal College Skills Centre. The cyclists were accompanied by a support team of 60 odd persons, assigned with the task of looking after the wellbeing of the students and promoting awareness of the cause that they were cycling for. The event was brought to a conclusion with a media briefing held at the Royal College Skills Centre.

Commenting on the monumental feat, Pratheesh Meswaran the chief coordinator of the cyclists claimed that “the effort that was put into the event was well worth it when one sees the unnecessary suffering that cardiac patients in the Northern Province go through due to the inability to gain access to the necessary cardiac treatment.” He continued that “cardiac patients in the North had to incur additional costs as a result of expenses related to travelling, accommodation and meals.” The gathering was also informed as to how such a journey poses significant health risks for the patient.  

Dr. Ravi Perumalpillai elaborated on the prevalence of cardiac disease in the Northern Province and the lack of facilities in the area claiming, “cardiac disease is a major cause of death, particularly in young males, with an estimated 800 patients per annum requiring cardiac surgery. Out of the 800 patients, up to 200 -250 patients are annually referred to Colombo or Kandy.”

OHF plans to introduce cardiac care to the North and surrounding regions by partnering with the North Central Hospital (NCH). NCH is a modern hospital located in Thirunalvely, near the University of Jaffna campus.  The hospital has pledged to contribute its facilities. The OHF will finance a support team from Oxford University for training and monitoring, purchase specialist cardiac equipment and allocate USD 300,000 to treat destitute patients during the first year. The first round of surgeries commenced on the 6th of July. Having already raised USD 600,000, OHF is looking for an additional 1.4 million USD to complete their mission.

19 Aug 2014
The Cycle ride ended on 17 Aug at 4pm

A team of cyclists, about 55 boys and men mostly from the Jaffna University, spontaneously organised a cycling campaign from Jaffna to Colombo to raise awareness and expand the cardiac care for the northern and eastern part of Sri Lanka. This effort was lead by Pratheesh Maheswaran a lecturer in Pharmacology. The participating students came from all communities. The campaign, following a visit to the Nallur temple commenced from the Kailasapillayar kovil at 6:30 in the morning on Friday 15th August. The send off was supported by the whole of civil society, academia, political hue, media and security personnel (see attachment). The road ahead was clear to Colombo for these young men, including a 71 year old, to publicise the need for the expansion of cardiac services. 

The cycle ride ended 440 kilometers later at the Royal College Hall on Sunday 17th August at 4:00pm. The key note speaker the ex Bishop of Colombo Mr Duleep Chichera gave food for thought. I hope such events will continue to persuade our friends at large to support the Oxonian Heart Foundation, in the pursuit of providing a cardiac surgical clinical service, teaching and training, and supporting further education and research.


6 Aug 2014
Students are cycling from Jaffna to Colombo on 15th August in 'Cycle for Life' campaign

On the 15th August, a group of Students from the University of Jaffna are cycling from Jaffna to Colombo in the ‘Cycle for Life’ campaign to raise awareness and fundinging for a humanitarian cause that the Oxonian Heart Foundation (OHF) is championing in partnership with the Northern Central Hospital (NCH) in Jaffna.  See Sunday Times article for full details

6 Jul 2014
Closure Of Atrial Septal defect

We have successfully closed a hole in the heart of a fifteen year old girl weighing 35 kilograms, a destitute orphan from Trincomalee. Post operatively she is stable. This is the first such open heart procedure carried out outside Colombo, Kandy and Galle in Sri Lanka.

See The Sunday Times in Sri lanka for the full story

20 Apr 2014
Update from the board of Trustees

Happy New Year !

A media launch to increase awareness and raise funds for the Oxonian Heart Foundation was carried out at the auditorium of the Jaffna Library on 13th April 2014. Among the guest list which included Cardiologists, surgeons, media personnel, lawyers was the chief guest and key note speaker Mr Justice Wickneswaran Chief Minister of the Northern Province. 

Reflecting the limited funds raised to date a small programme introducing cardiac surgery to the Northern province will be initiated in early July 2014. An anaesthetist and four nurses from Oxford will travel to Jaffna during the first week of July to participate in the commencement of the surgical programme. Emirates Airlines have kindly provided free travel for these personnel.

Continued fund raising is required to achieve the goal of a full service.

Please try and make a difference !

Ravi Perumalpillai

1 Jan 2014
Chairman's message: Happy New Year

Chairman's message:

The Oxonian Heart Foundation wishes a happy new year to all its donors and supporters. We shall be placing on our website details of donations . The initial start up funding requirement of US$ 1.02 million remains our priority. Currently we have available to us just over US$ 400,000.00. It is anticipated that a further receipt of US$ 250,000 will enable us to make a start by the middle of 2014. 

No expenditure has been incurred to date. It is expected that the cost of technical assistance will be  incurred incrementally and we have striven to obtain equipment at competitive prices. 

The Northern Central Hospital has identified core staff to be trained at cardiac surgical units in Colombo as a prelude to starting the programme. These members of staff were interviewed by me and are clearly enthusiastic and dedicated and most importantly are willing to learn and are looking forward to being part of an innovative team.