An Australian surgical team is hoping to improve the lives of about 30 people in Tonga during a two week visit to perform heart operations.
49 medical specialists volunteering for Open Heart International are working at Nuku'alofa's Vaiola Hospital, treating people suffering from rheumatic and congenital heart defects.
The project coordinator, John Wallace, says the team took over three tonnes of equipment with them to perform procedures that cannot normally be performed in Tonga.
He says the procedures are life-changing.
"Many of them have had valve replacements because rheumatic heart disease predominantly damages heart valves and eventually renders them hardly functional at all, so they would end up very short of breath and unable to do anything if they didn't have this surgery."
Dr Wallace says Open Heart International has been steadily increasing the regularity of the visits and the number of patients treated in the last few years.