Healing Children's Hearts in Nicaragua

 
$15,620 $14,380
Raised Remaining
Two Years Later
Two Years Later

Occasionally, we receive news from our Nicaraguan project and always, such news is welcome.  You can imagine our pleasure late last week when we received a photo shared on electronic media from a devoted mother who was observing the second anniversary of her son's heart surgery at our new Pediatric Heart Center in Nicaragua.

This is why we do what we do.  Cristhian of Nicaragua, a young mother,.put together this heartwarming collage.   In the foreground is a 2013 photo of her son when he was an infant who underwent surgery at our Pediatric Heart Center in Nicaragua. Following surgery performed by Dr. Dominique Metras of France, the photo was taken by the team's anesthesiologist, Amar Hasan of Palestine. Dr. Hasan must have given this mother the photo as a keepsake. Now, two years later, the mother has provided a new photo of her son, smiling and healthy. Gracias, y saludos a su hijo.

We are happy to share this joyful story with our Global Giving family of donors who, after all, make so much of our program possible.  Our Nicaragua program is thriving, staff for the new Heart Center is expanding slowly but surely and supply lines are activating so that the Heart Center will be able to acquire medicines and supplies without Surgeons of Hope needing to order and ship to them.  This is the kind of progress that Surgeons of Hope, in partnership with you, is making.

In a personal message to us, the mother thanks Surgeons of Hope for the fact that her son is now healthy and leading the life of a normal child.

There is more to be done at our Heart Center.  There are challenges, of course, but the momentum is there.  We share this photo with you, with thanks.  Please consider a donation to Surgeons of Hope through Global Giving.  Every dollar helps to give a child the gift of a normal childhood.

Please give.  Even a small donation will help to bring about critically needed surgery and additional training for the local staff.

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Andro Heals by Blowing Bubbles
Andro Heals by Blowing Bubbles

Surgeons of Hope has made progress in a few directions since our last report in March.  In April our new Pediatric Heart Center welcomed a full mission team from Madrid, Spain, for a week of surgeries and training, and in May, a week-long catheterization mission team from Arizona and Idaho inaugurated the new catheterizaiton lab at the Heart Center.  The Mission was supported by Mending Kids Foundation.  A little girl received the first catheretization procedure and the outcome was successful, much to the joy of her family and the hospital staff.

During the Madrid mission, one of the little patients, Andro, recovered nicely from heart surgery at the Heart Center in Managua and enjoyed blowing soap bubbles as part of his recuperation process. The team of 13 specialists from Madrid was led by surgeon Juan-Miguel Gil, MD, and cardiologist Constancio Medrano. The April mission was a resounding success.

This week, two new pieces of equipment have been delivered to the Heart Center, one is a newly refurbished Philips ultrasound machine (donated by Let It Beat Foundation, in Geneva, Switzerland) and a perfusionist's CPB (Heart-Lung) pump.  Just this afternoon, we learned that a package of syringe pump parts has arrived safely, also.

"With this equipment, the Heart Center of Managua is now one of the most modern in Cenral America," commented Philippe Lerch, Nicaragua Program Director for Surgeons of Hope.  "This will help the local team to operate on growing numbers of children who desperately need surgery."

Surgeons of Hope has not and cannot do this without the help of our loyal Global Giving friends.  The children receiving care at our Heart Center may not know the source of their help, but we do, and we thank you.  Please continue your life-altering support.

Andro Taking Up Art
Andro Taking Up Art
Andro with the team cardiologist and his mother
Andro with the team cardiologist and his mother
Madrid Medical Team photo
Madrid Medical Team photo

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Post-Surgery with mother--Belgian Team
Post-Surgery with mother--Belgian Team's Mission

Recent weeks have seen growing heart-saving activity at the new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua, Nicaragua.  Two teams, one from Belgium and one from France, visited the Heart Center with differing mission concepts.  The Belgian team of 12 volunteers performed a standard mission of providing operations while training the local medical team.  10 children were operated on during the week that the Belgian team was there in mid-February. 

Then, in late February, a team of 3 from Mecenat Cardiaque, a Paris organization, visited the center to focus on echocardiography, studying the hearts of 30 children weakened by heart problems, and thought to be in advanced stages requiring the most complex of surgical procedures to be saved.  Genuinely moved by the numbers of cases, visiting cardiologist  Dr. Laurent Fermont, resolved to bring one child to Paris for surgery first, and then in future months to try to progressively bring more children for surgery in France.

Interviewed during the Belgian mission, cardiac surgeon Katrien Francois, MD, took time in the ICU to reflect upon the essence of their mission.  She noted with some gravity, that the Belgian team would not experience such advanced cases in their home country.  By visiting Nicaragua, her team was able to utilize aspects of their training geared toward helping children who had not been able to access care in a more timely manner--their situations were far beyond those usually found in the developed world where such problems are dealt with sooner.  For that reason, the Belgian team was grateful for the opportunity to visit our Heart Center.  They could experience the need, help the afflicted infants and children, and train the local medical team in essential procedures.

In April, a team will be traveling from Madrid, Spain, for their first visit to our Heart Center.  A volunteer team of 12 have agreed to go.  This team was assembled, thanks to the enthusiasm of one of the nurses at the children's hospital in Madrid.  Nurse Gemma was part of the French mission team of 2014, and upon  her return home, she resolved to assemble her colleagues into their own team and go back to Managua.

As Global Giving friends of Surgeons of Hope, you have contributed to bringing all of these volunteer teams to our Heart Center.  Think of the young lives of the children who have received desperately-needed help, and realize that each of you has had a hand in this success.  There is still more to be done, but we are getting there.

Commenting on the contributions of these various international teams, SoH Executive Director Charles Catherine said that these teams bring their various approaches to the work that we are doing in Nicaragua.  The local medical team, particularly Mireya Araica, MD, Cardiologist at the Heart Center, has praised the progress that she has seen all around her.  "I am excited that a Spanish-speaking team from one of the world's leading children's hospitals in Madrid is preparing for a mission," Mr. Catherine said.

Please continue to support our work to heal these children's hearts in Nicaragua.  Your Global Giving dollars go very far.

Working in the busy  ICU
Working in the busy ICU
Mecenat Cardique consultation session
Mecenat Cardique consultation session
Mecenat team with local hospital officials
Mecenat team with local hospital officials

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Dr. Metras Greets Baby Lesyenia Before Surgery
Dr. Metras Greets Baby Lesyenia Before Surgery

Pushing through unanticipated events including a power failure, air conditioning shortage, and a late shipment of one type of essential medicine, our volunteer international team, during their one-week stay last week, completed 9 operations on infants and children in need of heart surgery.  The surgeries were performed at our new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua, located in Managua.  The international team was headed by renowned pediatric heart surgeon, Dominique Metras, MD, of Marseille, France.  Team members came from Marseille and Bordeaux, France; Madrid, Spain; and Ramallah, Palestine.  Despite the difficulties, all of the operations were successful.  The team is grateful to the technical crew serving the hospital for their ingenuity in helping to find solutions to the technical difficulties as they arose.

One of the ablest chroniclers of the week in photographs was Hasan Amar, MD, the anesthesiologist from Palestine.  In between operations, he snapped some great photographs, some of which are included with this report.  Describing the first patient seen on Monday (Jennifer, 13 years of age), he wrote, "a cute girl suffering congenital aortic stenosis underwent a successful operation by the international team." 

The photographs speak volumes.  One touching snapshot of Dr. Metras greeting little Lesyenia (11 months), in advance of her operation during which her life would be in his capable hands is included with this report.  The operation went well and her life is immeasurably changed now that she is free of the heart ailment that was holding her hostage.  Her childhood is now ahead of her--she will live the life of a healthy little girl. 

Philippe Lerch, our Nicaragua Program Director, wrote in a preliminary report that the air conditioning will be fixed in January, in time for another surgical mission team's arrival from Belgium.  He said that the medical supplies were in place for the mission in sufficient supply that the team was able to function well without the late medication.

Our GlobalGiving friends who direct donatiions our way by using their company's gift cards or by direct donation through our GlobalGiving project page are to be thanked for this success.  If you are reading this report, you are an integral part of Surgeons of Hope.  Please consider an end-of-the-year gift to us.  We are a small organization, so we put your dollars right to work for the good of the kids who are waiting for our help.  Please give. 

Akim After Surgery, Thinking of the Holidays
Akim After Surgery, Thinking of the Holidays
Little Sujeya With Post Op Lollipop
Little Sujeya With Post Op Lollipop
Volunteer Team Gathers for Photo
Volunteer Team Gathers for Photo

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The First Surgery of the Week, photo by Dr. Vu
The First Surgery of the Week, photo by Dr. Vu

               Completing their first mission to our new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua, Nicaragua, a 15-member team from New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia Medical Center (NYPH), led by Dr. Paul Chai who heads their Pediatric Cardiac Department, has returned safely to New York from their week-long mission. Nine infants and children received critically-needed open-heart surgery at the hands of the team as they collaborated with the local surgical staff at the Heart Center. Specialized training in essential surgical procedures was an integral part of the week.

               Our mission was the first humanitarian mission undertaken by NYPH in the country of Nicaragua, according to Philippe Lerch, Surgeons of Hope’s Nicaragua Program Director, in a preliminary report received today. “The NYPH mission definitely established the important role of our Heart Center and its future in Managua and surrounding regions in Central America,” Mr. Lerch said.

               NYPH has volunteered teams for SoH missions in the past and the collaboration has been immensely productive in providing the best in heart care for the poorest children in other parts of the world. In 2004, when Surgeons of Hope was a young organization, the first four missions ever accomplished by us were led by NYPH teams traveling to Asia and Africa (Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Senegal). Jillian Kirkpatrick, RN, head nurse on Dr. Chai’s Nicaragua mission team, was also a team member for those 2004 missions.

               Since the early years, Surgeons of Hope has focused on Latin America and sends teams from other leading hospitals in the US and Europe. Our history boasts about the steady, sure growth that our program provides, thanks to the help and support of our Global Giving partners and friends. For that we thank you all. Your donations continue to make our work possible for these kids.

               Team members Dien Vu, MD (anesthesia); Carmen Martinez and Melissa Varrone, RNs, sent along some early photos which we know our Global Giving friends will enjoy.

               How can we thank you, our Global Giving friends, except to say "Thank you all".  We can't do it without your continued willingness to donate and your characteristic generosity.

Diagnostic Scanning of Little Patient
Diagnostic Scanning of Little Patient
Second Day Surgery, photo by Carmen Martinez, RN
Second Day Surgery, photo by Carmen Martinez, RN
Dr. Chai Teaching During Surgery
Dr. Chai Teaching During Surgery
Dr. Cheung Instructing
Dr. Cheung Instructing

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Project Leader

Leila Hawken

New York, NY United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Healing Children's Hearts in Nicaragua