The Take Heart Mercy mission starts on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gillingham Football Club will be embarking on another Mercy Mission with the club’s official charity, Take Heart, on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

Each year, a group of doctors, surgeons and nurses from the Evelina Children's Hospital in London travel to Sri Lanka to perform lifesaving operations and help teach medical staff. 

The mission aims to see between 100-150 patients in cardiology, where they will be scanned by Professor John Simpson and his team. The team then selects around 21 appropriate cases to undergo heart surgery, with three patients a day being treated over a seven-day period. These operations are usually among the most challenging of surgeries. 

The medical team includes cardiologist Professor Simpson and his team of two, heart surgeon Dr Conal Austin with his team of four and an anaesthetist, plus heart bypass machine operators and scrub nurses. There will also be two doctors in the intensive care unit, with a team of nurses on hand, and all will be working 24-hour-shifts.

Surgery starts on Friday, October 14 and the team will work continuously for seven days. 

The medical team have been saving lives in Sri Lanka for 12 years now, and they have performed over 210 heart surgeries thus far.

Each year the GFC Community Trust football coaches travel to Sri Lanka on the Take Heart Mercy Mission to participate in coaching poverty stricken children. On October 12, the GFC coaches will board the Sri Lankan Airways flight with footballs, kit, cones and all necessary equipment to teach the children of Sri Lanka over a coaching programme that will last for five days in total.

Adam Lawrence, CEO of the GFC Community Trust, travelled to Sri Lanka with the 2015 Take Heart Mercy Mission, and is looking forward to revisiting the Asian island this year.

“This is the third year that the Trust has been invited to support the Take Heart Mercy Mission to Sri Lanka, and our team of coaches are very much looking forward to it,” said Adam.

“I had the pleasure of joining the team last year, and it really was an unbelievable trip. To see the work that the medical team carry out and the lives that they change in such a short period of time is truly inspiring.

“The GFC Community Trust has been able to support the trip further by delivering soccer schools and fun sports sessions to local children. We were delighted to see over 300 children last year over the course of five days, and we are excited to see some familiar faces, as well as some new ones, again next week.”