2013 has been a year of tremendous progress for our program in Nicaragua, from sponsoring surgical missions to completing construction of our new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of our Global Giving donors and friends, some of whom gave significantly, and some who gave generously from limited resources, but all are appreciated. We did this together.
In July, the new Heart Center hosted a celebration which drew a large audience to hear speeches, to see a commemorative plaque unveiled, and to remember those who worked so hard to bring it about.
And now, after diligent efforts to continue the equipping and supplying of the new, modern facility, the honor of the inaugural teaching surgical mission to ever visit the new Heart Center is given to Eduardo da Cruz, MD, SoH President, partnered with noted cardiac surgeon, James Jaggers, MD, both of whom are colleagues at Children's Hospital of Colorado. Their team is drawn from the excellent medical staff at their own hospital, many of whom have gone on the early surgical mission trips to our program in Managua.
This larger-than-usual team includes experts in equipment maintenance and repair, hospital inventory systems, and childhood heart disease prevention.
Symbolizing the continuation of collaborative support from both the American and European teams, the second mission, scheduled for early 2014, will be led by noted pediatric heart surgeon, Dr. Daniel DeWolfe, and his mission team from CdE Belgium (La Chaine de l'Espoir--Belgique).
Returning to the SoH offices in New York this week for pre-mission details, Philippe Lerch, Director of the Nicaragua program, described the impact of the recent outbreak of dengue fever which hospitalized 64 children and brought an all-out effort to provide transfusion equipment to the main hospital. Latest dengue victim statistics are showing improvement in recent reports. Board member Michel Berty stopped in to greet him and receive an update.
The new Heart Center is already becoming the hub of activity, Mr. Lerch reports. Two areas are showing robust activity: the Cardiology offices are now open and busy with visitors who can enjoy the air contitioned rooms or the new flower gardens where benches are being added to already installed swings for the children. Also, the pre-operative rooms when children and their families stay comfortably while they are awaiting tests and their appointment for surgery.
Mr. Lerch proudly indicated that Surgeons of Hope has the first public heart hospital in Nicaragua. We remain grateful for your participation in our achievement.
As we near the end of the year, we hope that you will enjoy the convivialty of peace the the season offers, and that when you think of your end-of-the-year giving, you will remember Surgeons of Hope and the truly amazing work that we are doing to bring hope to the young children of Nicaragua. We thank you most sincerely for your spontaneous and heartfelt compassion and generosity.
On July 23 the ribbon was cut to open the main doors of our new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua. Officials and the media gathered to mark the occasion with speeches, music, and dance. A tour of the new facility followed and included a bedside visit to see little Martha, (2), the first child to receive an operation in the new building. The smiling face of Martha's mother said more than words can convey.
It is important to note with appreciation the role of our GlobalGiving friends who have brought us this far. While the opening is a grand achievement, the hospital is only half-furnished with equipment and supplies. One of the two operating rooms and four of the Intensive Care units are ready for use; the other half is still coming. That's where GlobalGiving continues to make essential contributions. Our main project "Healing Children's Hearts in Nicaragua" helps to fund the surgeries and training, and our little mircroproject "Keeping Infants Warm After Heart Surgery--GlobalGiving # 14408" is poking along to supply warming blankets, a vital detail to an infant's quick recovery after surgery. Both projects are necessary; both projects are active.
A bit more about Martha and her mother: They come from a small village in Nicaragua, called Valle de la Laguna (Valley of the Lake), near Grenada. Because Martha's father did not remain with the family, Martha and her mother live with grandmother. The problem that Martha was having was a chronic case of pneumonia because her heart was not functioning well enough. Now, after her surgery, what they call a DAP procedure, things are much better.
There will be more surgical missions in the fall, October and early December, to continue ongoing training in the new Heart Center, but what a wonderful Center it is. Alan Tellez, the heart surgeon at the Heart Center, is forever grateful for the improvement and the modern equipment, joining his staff in appreciation for this most up-to-date facility. Dr. Mejia called it a giant step for Nicaragua, and that it was, and continues to be, with your help.
Please consider a donation in celebration of what you and Surgeons of Hope have created together. Your donation will be put to work in supporting upcoming surgical training missions and providing the necessary supplies.
Eight infants and children received live-saving open-heart surgery between June 22 and 30, from our 10-member international team of medical professional gathered from children's hospitals in France, Colombia, and Palestine. Although the team had hoped to inaugurate our new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua by being the first team to perform surgery there, unforeseen delays in equipment installation made that impossible, and the team was invited to use the operating room facilities in the neighboring La Mascota Children's Hospital.
Philippe Lerch, our Regional Director stationed in Managua, reported this week that the health ministry (MINSA) has assigned a full-time technician to speed the equipment installation along.
We are pleased to report that Emily, a little girl from a remote village in Nicaragua, will be scheduled for her surgery during the November mission. During this mission, she made the trip from her village to Managua to be seen by Dr. Mireya Araica, Cardiologist at La Mascota, and by our team leader and head surgeon, Dr. Dominique Metras of France. Unfortunately, Emily was suffereing from a bit of pneumonia, so Drs. Araica and Metras recommended that her surgery wait until the pneumonia clears up. Emily came to our attention when a volunteer organization from Colorado visited her village as part of their project to bring better living conditions, and later contacted us to see if our program in Nicaragua could help her with her heart problem. They have been instrumental in helping to arrange for Emily's transportation from her village to Managua.
Work continues on the supplying of the new hospital. We have launched a new microproject through Global Giving to provide warming blankets for infants following surgery when their hearts and bodies need to be chilled down. After surgery, it is vital to get them warmed up quickly, as their little bodies have not developed the capacity for temperature regulation. Our microproject can be found at http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/warming-children-after-heart-surgery/
Please join with us and Global Giving in continuing your support of our project to provide access to heart surgery in Latin America. Your continuing support is making it happen.
June will bring tremendous progress to Surgeons of Hope's program in Nicaragua with the opening of the new Pediatric Heart Center, adjacent to La Mascota Children's Hospital in Managua. The Health Ministry of Nicaragua is equally excited about this first opening, which will be a phased-in program, featuring the opening of one of the two operating rooms, and half of the ICU unit furnished. The formal Grand Opening is scheduled for 2014, but this opening will be celebrated as the first surgical mission team will gather in late June, coming from France, Palestine, and Colombia, to perform the first surgeries in the new facility. The team of ten is looking forward to their historic role in providing access to pediatric open-heart surgery for the poor in Nicaragua.
Surgeons of Hope has been working hard to provide furnishings for the new Center. A new operating room table is on its way from Germany, and operating room lights are being sent as a donation from a hospital in Delaware. Two huge shipping containers full of ICU beds and regular hospital beds, monitoring equipment and supplies have arrived safely in Managua from New York (AFYA) and Denver (Project CURE). They have cleared Customs, and are awaiting trucking from the Health Ministry warehouse to the new Heart Center. Philippe Lerch, our SoH Regional Director for the Nicaragua Program, is in Managua to oversee the furnishing of the new Center, and he is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the trucks bearing the new equipment and supplies.
While the donations of supplies and equipment have been on-going, Surgeons of Hope still needs you, our GlobalGiving family. Your faithfulness to our efforts is a great joy to us, as your donations will provide for the necessities that accompany this equipping effort. The local staff at La Mascota is earnest in welcoming the improvements to their pediatric care capabilities, but there are real challenges that remain. While they wish to be able to do a better job with sterilization, for example, they are hampered by lack of the supplies that are necessary to achieve that progress. Everything from pump dispensers for hand soap and right up the supply ladder is sorely needed. That's where our GlobalGiving team comes in.
Please consider doing what you can to help and if you are a past donor, please give again.
A 19-member surgical/medical team from Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York has returned from an SoH sponsored week-long mission trip to La Mascota Children's Hospital in Managua, the site of SoH's new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua. Reports are in from the doctors who treated the nine waiting infants and children. During the week, one of the little infants expired from being too weak to recover from the complex surgery, underscoring the urgency of opening the new Heart Center and the planned satellite clinics which will speed the care to the population.
The new Heart Center is completed now, and the next three phases will see the equipment and furnishings being installed. Phase One will open one operating room and two ICU beds in June of this year (2013), and we will be sponsoring a mission from NY Presbyterian Hospital to visit for the week and celebrate the opening with a week of surgeries and on-going training of the local staff.
Two full containers of purchased and donated medical equipment and supplies are being shipped this month (March) to arrive in time for the opening. One container will go from Denver (Project CURE) and the other from New York. The containers include hospital beds, ICU beds, monitors, surgical insruments appropriately sized for infants and children, perfusion equipment, echocardiography equipment, and more. Also being shipped is a Smartboard unit, a gift from Ronald McDonald House Charities, to be put to great use in training and telemedicine programs we are initiating as part of our program. Needless to say, the local hospital staff are excited to be seeing their new Pediatric Heart Center take shape.
Thanks to our Global Giving donors our program is proceeding apace. Much needs to be done in preparation for the opening. We continue to need the help of our family of Global Giving Donors. Why not distribute this report to family and friends who might be willing to join with you in supporting Surgeons of Hope? Small donations add up.
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