Two Russian boys born with holes in their hearts were discharged Thursday from St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn after receiving treatment to correct the congenital heart defects, allowing them to breathe without difficulty.
The boys, Kiril Polyansky and Artem Sarafnov, both 5 years old, suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, a common heart problem that left the children too tired to play.
Holding lacrosse sticks, the boys and their mothers faced a phalanx of cameras Thursday, a day after the children underwent separate procedures. Both boys, who speak Russian, said they were doing well.
“Good,” Artem said through an interpreter when asked how he was feeling.
The procedures, which lasted less than a half-hour each, were performed Wednesday by Dr. Sean Levchuck, chairman of pediatric cardiology at St. Francis, who donated his services. Levchuck placed a piece of titanium in each boy’s heart to close the gap between the aorta and pulmonary artery.
“By using a tiny plug threaded to a catheter inserted through a needle hole in both boys’ legs, we are able to close the holes in their hearts, much like inserting a cork into a bottle,” Levchuck said.
Patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, occurs soon after birth in some babies. A small PDA might not cause complications, but a larger one that remains open for an extended period can cause the heart to enlarge, forcing it to work harder. If left untreated, PDA can lead to heart failure.
The boys, strangers to one another until this month, were brought to the United States by Russian Gift of Life and Gift of Life International, nonprofit organizations that pay for open- and closed-heart surgeries for children from other countries. Manhasset High School students, who are members of the Interact Club, a youth organization connected to the Rotary Club, raised $5,000 to help cover one of the boys’ travel costs. The other $5,000 was donated anonymously by a Russian businessman based in the United States, according to a hospital representative.
“I am so grateful to be a part of this,” said Dominique Alcamo, a Manhasset High School senior who helped with the fundraising effort, which included selling hundreds of pizza pies.
Artem’s mother, Alena Sarafanova, 27, who works for a Russian cable company, said her son wants to be a boxer when he grows up. Kiril’s mother, Viktoriia Polianskaya, 33, a bookkeeper, said her son wants to play hockey one day.
The boys’ families live about an hour’s drive from each other, said Michael Yurieff, executive director of Russian Gift of Life. Artem’s family is from Lipetsky, a city about 270 miles southeast of Moscow. Kiril’s family is from Lebedyan, a small town about 40 miles from Lipetsky.
“She said she was happy to have a one-in-a-million chance to save her son,” Yurieff said of Kiril’s mom.
The boys, who enjoyed playing on Long Island’s beaches, planned more such outings before they return to their homes on June 1.
“Thank you very much,” Artem said in English.