The last week in February, I traveled to Managua with three goals in mind: First to see our project,the new Pediatric Heart Center which has opened and is now operating at La Mascota Children's Hospital in Managua; Second, to meet our colleagues who are working with us at the new Center; Third, to follow up on little patients whom we have operated on and who are now at home living out their childhoods free of the heart problems which plagued their infancy and youth.
First, our new Pediatric Heart Center has a large footprint on the La Mascota property; it is clean and modern. Our work now is to complete the equipping and furnishing while the health ministry completes the staffing. The staff who are in place now are sufficient to provide operations (our training has honed and elevated their skills) and to care for children in half of the ICU units. The coming months will see the equipping completed. A donated Philips Catheterization Lab is on its way there now. That is huge progress, for which we tip our hats to our Global Giving donors who have helped us along the way.
Second, I met with staff and administrators, including the Director of La Mascota, Dr. Freddy Castillo, who praised the Center saying, "The Center gives a better perspective of life for the many children who will be helped because of it." Dr. Marta Vargas, Chief of the ICU area, smiled broadly saying, "The hospital is my second home," and she hopes for more nursing staff to give an even higher level of care. Through Global Giving we are providing even more pieces of absolutely necessary equipment for each ICU bed.
Third, and superbly gratifying were my visits with past patients and their families whose stories illustrate who we are and our mission in Latin America. We met Jonathan in Managua. He is now 12 and reports that he enjoys soccer, and ultimately hopes to become a banker. We met Camilla who, two years after her operation is now in kindergarten. She is a happy, vivacious youngster who is feeling much, much better with more energy and appetite. Because Camilla's health is better, her mother is able to take a class in becoming a beautician, something she could not do when Camilla was so ill. The whole family benefits, directly and indirectly, from Surgeons of Hope's program. And finally, we met with Holman who is now 18. His open-heart operation was in 2009. He is now enrolled in medical school studying biomedicine. Each day he takes a bus to Managua to the university, but he is doing well there. Holman's family said repeatedly that they realize the education is the way for their children to lift themselves out of generations of poverty. Thanks to our Global Giving friends, this is possible for these families.
My brief trip breathed life into our motto: "It is not only what we bring; it is what we leave behind." Thanks to Globel Giving for joining with us.
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