Ketevan to be operated in Berlin in April

by ChessBase
3/30/2013 – We recently reported that during the Women's World Chess Team Championship, which was held from March 2nd to 12th in Astana, Kazakhstan, one participant, Georgian IM Salome Melia, was not playing only for the honour of her country, but also for her daughter, four-month-old daughter Ketevan, who desperately needs a heart operation. Here's how things developed.

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Salome's infant daughter was born with a pulmonary atresia with ventricular septal defect and major aorto-pulmonary collaterals (MAPCA), which those of you who are interested can read all about here. Until recently, the outcomes of patients born with this defect were extremely grim. In the early surgical era they had only a 20% chance of being alive at the age of 30 years. Today prospect are much better, with full repair rates of over 80% being achieved. In some cases this is accomplished in one operation, but usually for long-term survival into adulthood a multistage approach is required.

Unfortunately the procedures required by Ketevan are very difficult and unfortunately impossible do perform in Georgia. Enquiries in America, e.g. at the Stanford University Medical Center, revealed that the cost of initial treatment there would be between US $500,000 and $1,500,000. If you are astounded by the price – fifteen times more than for the German heart center below, you should read the recent Time Magazine cover story that generated a great deal of discussion in the national and international community.

Fortunately the family discovered that the operation could be performed at the German Heart Center in Berlin, at a cost of €60,000. This included complex interventional heart catheterization and complicated surgery utilizing a heart-lung machine, with a maximum of five days for the interventional heart catheterization and 27 days for the surgery utilizing the heart-lung machine of hospitalization. Standard room accommodation is provided for the child and her parents.

Salome Melia sent us the following letter:

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to you for your helpfulness and kindness, solidarity and readiness to help. Thanks to you I've managed to gather the required funds to conduct the surgery to my daughter. Many helped anonymously, so without mentioning each and everyone - THANK YOU! And special thanks to the main sponsor. I also thank the members of the Women's World Team Championship, coaches, captains, journalists, organizers, my team and whole Georgia. Thanks to the ACP and national chess federations, journalists and websites, which have published my call for help.

There was another donor, who contacted ChessBase after they published the story. He is a chess player but now active in investment banking. Incredibly he offered to pay the amount that was still needed for an operation. We put him in touch with Salome, and later she told us:

This donor, who wishes to remain unnamed, expressed readiness to cover the expenses if some of the other donors would not manage to transfer the sum to the hospital on time. He transferred the amount that was still missing to the German Heart Center in Berlin, and provided me a guarantee of covering the expenses for some extra days that might be necessary for staying at hospital. When we asked him why he was doing such a valuable favour he answered: "It's a baby, and deserves to live." There are still some truly incredible people in the world. In addition, an unknown donor company from Russia helped us greatly.

In addition to the above Salome has wrote us the following:

I would like to say special thanks to those chess players, who were ready to collect the amount of money among them to cover the cost of operation in case the needed sums were not allocated. Additionally, I would like to thank the participants of London Candidates Tournament. One of them contributed significantly one minute after reading the story; the rest of the participants expressed readiness to help in case of necessity. They are not only great chess players but they are full of valuable personal traits. I cordially wish them health and success.

We will be travelling to Berlin on April 2nd.

The journey is not over, there will be additional costs. We ask journalists to appeal to the chess community, philanthropists and ask to help Salome Melia in her difficult situation. You can send money to this account:

Beneficiary: Salome Melia
Number of account: GE57PC0193600100007067
Bank code (SWIFT): MIBGGE22
Name of bank: ProCredit Bank, Tbilisi, Georgia
address of bank: 21 Al. Kazbegi Ave., 0160 Tbilisi, Georgia.

Our readers can also make donations using PayPal. Name: Olena Prusikin, email: All money received will be used exclusively for the operations and the post-operative care of Ketevan. If any is left over it will be donated to a charity for infants with heart diseases.

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