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The Greek Heart Surgeon Who Has Operated on 15,000 Children For Free

The Greek Heart Surgeon, Afksendiyos Kalangos with a patient
Dr. Afksendiyos Kalangos with a patient. Credit: Afksendiyos Kalangos

Greek media have given Dr. Afksendiyos Kalangos many names. They have called him “the doctor of the poor,” “a saint without a halo,” “the greek heart surgeon who saves children,” “the guardian angel,” and “the doctor with the golden hands.”

But the most accurate of all the epithets should be “the greek heart surgeon who operated on 15,000 children for free.”

Dr. Kalangos began his career as a cardiovascular surgeon at the Geneva Medical School Hospital in Switzerland in 1993. In 1998, the philanthropic doctor founded the “Coeurs Pour Tous” (Hearts for All) foundation, and in 2002 he founded the “Kalangos Institution” for which he also serves as Chairman.

In the past ten years, he has traveled all over the world along with his medical team, performing his “art of saving the lives of children” as a Greek journalist put it. He and his crack team have traveled to a total of 25 countries, performing pro bono heart surgery on fifteen thousand children.

Kalangos’ name is synonymous with the selfless provision of healthcare services to patients with heart disease in Greece, Lebanon, Georgia, Serbia, Cyprus, India, Morocco, and Algeria. He has also performed his lifesaving miracles in Mauritius, Mozambique, Eritrea, Madagascar, Venezuela, Ukraine,  Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Rwanda and other nations.

The greek surgeon with a heart of gold

The philanthropic cardiologist is a driven man by any standard. Through his charity, he supports children suffering from congenital heart disease all around the world, and this  requires at least 300,000 miles of travel per year.

He and his team work both in Europe and in an array of developing countries, performing a total of six hundred open heart surgeries each and every year.

As he said in an interview on Skai television, Dr. Kalangos owes his spirit of philanthropy to his father, who was a pathologist and director of the pediatric clinic at the Balikli Greek Hospital in Constantinople.

“I grew up in an environment of philanthropy. I discovered the notion of philanthropy as a young child. When we lost my mother, he opened a home clinic in our house where he examined patients two to three days a week,” the doctor explains.

He remembers, “Our garden was full of people. He examined patients free of charge, and even used to give them money of his own to buy their medication. I grew up with the teachings of my father, the philanthropist image of him. Then it became part of my nature.”

Dr. Kalangos has also invented a surgical device called the “Kalangos Ring.” The patented annuloplasty valve ring corrects the heart valve and preserves the growth potential of the child’s heart by inducing the creation of fibrous tissue.

Dr. Afksendiyos Kalangos
Dr. Afksendiyos Kalangos with a patient. Credit: Afksendiyos Kalangos

Medical training in Constantinople and Europe

Dr. Afksendiyos Kalangos graduated from Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine of Koc University in Constantinople in 1984. He served as a forensic and prison physician in Giresun between 1984-1986.

After he completed his residency at Dr. Siyami Ersek Breast, Heart And Vascular Surgery Training And Research Hospital in 1991, he received further training in London and later in Paris.

He started his career as a cardiovascular surgeon at the Geneva Medical School Hospital in 1993. Dr. Kalangos was named as vice chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery in 1998, then became the chair of the department in 2001. He was named director of Geneva’s Cardiovascular Center in 2011.

Dr. Kalangos received the title of professor at the Medical School of the University of Geneva in 2006, and in 2012 he earned the title of “Professor Ordinarius.” He has written more than 300 articles and has spoken at a total of 800 conferences in his career.

The brilliant doctor uses four unique surgical techniques in his heart surgeries which have been described in medical journals and adopted by surgeons around the world.

The aim of Dr. Kalangos’ foundation “Coeurs Pour Tous” is to operate on children with heart disease, irrespective of whether or not the family can afford the cost of such an operation. The foundation also trains physicians in order to create a high-level medical and nursing infrastructure which can offer medical services worldwide.

In 2015, the group called “Coeurs Pour Tous Hellas” began operation in Greece, with Dr. Kalangos and his team committed to helping needy children in the financially-stricken Greek nation. All the doctors on the team provide their services for free at Mitera Children’s Hospital in Athens.

Sources: Coeurs Pour Tous, MITERA Children’s Hospital, Koc University


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