Renovations on cards for House of the Heart Among the items in Adolphus Chau Kai-tung's clutter-free new office - he has moved out of his old clinic in Grantham Hospital in Aberdeen to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam over the past months - is a bagful of greeting cards. They are not just the usual Hallmark cards. They are cards sent by the parents of children whose hearts have been healed by his paediatric cardiac team. 'I collect all these cards, I never throw them away,' said Dr Chau, chief of service of Queen Mary Hospital's department of paediatric cardiology, who is also vice-chairman of the Children's Heart Foundation, a volunteer post. In 1994, a group of concerned parents and volunteers founded the organisation, one of 13 charities that hope to benefit from Operation Santa Claus 2008, and one that depends entirely on donations. Since early this year, Grantham's paediatric cardiology department has moved one block at a time to Queen Mary Hospital as part of the Hospital Authority's rationalisation programme. As the paediatric unit moved, so did the foundation's House of the Heart hostel. The hostel offers temporary accommodation to parents of children undergoing treatment. Within walking distance of the hospital, it allows them to spend more time with their children. The hostel, in the Government Quarters building, is expected to start operating next month, but funds are still needed for renovations. The hostel is particularly important for mothers whose newborns have congenital heart defects. 'It's the most rewarding thing to observe a child recovering from a serious illness to see them going back to a happy normal life,' Dr Chau said. One of his cards was from two medics whose child was released from the paediatrics unit last week after treatment for a small hole in the heart. 'Dear Dr Chau, Thank you for your care and help. I will work hard and be a good doctor in the future so I can help those in need,' one parent wrote. Another was from a patient with Down's syndrome whom Dr Chau saw from early childhood until 2006. 'Every year he remembers to post me a card. I haven't seen him for two years,' he said. The paediatric cardiology department is the only tertiary clinic that accepts referrals for the treatment of heart disease in patients who may require more complicated surgery or other treatment. It also receives referrals from Macau. Dr Chau said about 70 per cent of paediatric heart cases involve babies under one, while young, apparently healthy, children who suffer 'sudden cardiac death' may have had hidden symptoms. Trained GPs and doctors at obstetrics wards and maternal and child health centres could be gatekeepers to prevent such tragedies, he said. The foundation also sponsors medical research into congenital heart disease, organises medical exchange programmes, and invites leading international paediatric cardiac surgeons to Hong Kong. Co-organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, Operation Santa Claus - now in its 21st year - will benefit 13 charitable groups. Part of the funds raised will go to the Post's Homes for Hope project to help victims of the devastating May 12 earthquake in Sichuan rebuild their homes. Wish list Aim: The Children's Heart Foundation aims to move its House of the Heart hostel from its old location at Grantham Hospital to a new site at Queen Mary Hospital. The hostel offers temporary accommodation to the parents of children with heart defects. This allows them to spend more time with their children and reduces the travelling time between the hospital and their home. On average, about 1,850 parents benefit every year. The foundation hopes to open the new hostel next month. Funds needed: HK$500,000 in cash or in kind.