In rural and remote Indigenous communities throughout Australia, and particularly in the Northern Territory, it is not uncommon to see children as young as seven carrying the long scars of open-heart surgery running vertically down their chest. Melissa Davey describes what she saw on a trip to the Tiwi Islands and what needs to be done to stop children from needing the invasive operation

‘I’m too young to die’: the disease forcing Indigenous children to have open heart surgery

Melissa Davey talks to Miles Martignoni about what she saw in the Tiwi Islands: an entirely preventable condition called rheumatic heart disease, which is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries such as Africa, the Middle East and central and south Asia. But it is also found in Australia, in remote Indigenous communities plagued by social disadvantage. And, in those communities, it overwhelmingly affects children. The average lifespan for a child after having heart valve replacement surgery is just 10 years and in the podcast we find out why.

Guardian Australia travelled to Bathurst Island as a guest of Bupa. You can find more information about RHD and Take Heart here.

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