Nursing lecturer has life changing experience volunteering in Fiji

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 7-6-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus

Publication Place



Spending a week volunteering for surgeries in Fiji was a life changing experience for a nursing lecturer from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney Campus.

Cathy Costa recently joined other Australian nurses and doctors in Suva, Fiji to participate in Operation Open Heart - a program which provides much needed cardiac surgery to developing countries.

Ms Costa and the team were in the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva for two weeks where they performed around 36 cardiac operations. These surgeries included treatment of congenital heat defects and heart valve diseases (caused by childhood rheumatic fever).

The team is made up of specialized personnel comprising surgeons, anesthetists, physiotherapists, intensive care, operating theatre and ward nurses and technical support staff who donate their time, money, skills and expertise.

Three and a half tons of equipment was flown into Fiji converting a general operating theatre into a temporary cardiac theatre at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.

Ms Costa said the greatest satisfaction of the trip was being able to pass on skills and knowledge to the nurses working in Suva, who were very enthusiastic to learn.

“Education is a vital aspect of the program. As a nurse educator I was engaged in both bedside teaching as well as formal talks with the nursing staff and senior ward managers.

“The camaraderie of the team made the experience priceless. Such a trip is life changing and humbling. The work is extremely challenging in the make shift conditions. The best thanks are the happy smiling faces of the patients and relieved families when the surgery is finished,” said Ms Costa.

Media contact:

Moira Saunders 02 8204 4407