Jul 18, 2019

Too Fragile for a Name, But Just Right for Life

6-month-old unnamed daughter of Johana is better.
6-month-old unnamed daughter of Johana is better.

This 6-month-old baby girl, as yet unnamed because of her fragile condition at birth, is from Somotillo, Nicaragua.  Last May, she received the gift of life-saving, life-altering surgery to repair her little heart the size of a walnut. She suffered since birth with a congenital heart defect. Hearing about the new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua, built by Surgeons of Hope in 2013, her parents made the difficult trek from their village to the hospital. The little patients often endure the trip with their families on foot, bicycle, or if they have the fare, by bus.

Surgeons of Hope sends surgical training missions regularly to the Heart Center to ensure that training in the latest procedures is up to date and that the local team is equipped and ready to handle the unnamed babies and children who come through their doors.  Since April, 15 children have received skilled surgical care from the local team, now fully confident in their treatment skills.

Surgeons of Hope continues in the belief that modern pediatric heart health, readily available in the developed world, should not bypass the children of our neighbors in Central and South America. This is the promise of our volunteer teams who bring sustainable progress in medicine. Surgeons of Hope is supporting the fulfillment of that promise.

We are pleased to report that in early August a volunteer surgical team (it takes a dozen or so medical specialists to perform an open-heart procedure on a child) will visit our Heart Center from the children’s hospital in Bogota. They will perform 10 surgeries while they are there, alongside the local team. The Colombian team has been there several times before; we appreciate their dedication.

As always, it is our GlobalGiving friends who join with us in fulfilling our promise. Our Heart Center needs four heart monitors that keep track of how the patient’s heart is behaving during and after surgery. For the visiting team to succeed, a maximum number of beds must be functional with the right equipment.

We cannot do it without you, as you can imagine. The small donations that come to us from you, add up to do a tremendous amount of good in our world. Please help.

From Matagalpa, months-old baby recovered well.
From Matagalpa, months-old baby recovered well.
Andrea (7) from Carazo manages a winning smile
Andrea (7) from Carazo manages a winning smile
Unnamed baby (11 mo.) with mother Gissella
Unnamed baby (11 mo.) with mother Gissella
Kelly (5) from Granada is home now.
Kelly (5) from Granada is home now.
Gabriel (5), operated on in April, with parents
Gabriel (5), operated on in April, with parents

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Apr 12, 2019

Heart Center keeps on saving lives despite unrest

Sara (10) first surgery of 2019 in January
Sara (10) first surgery of 2019 in January

The last few reports about our project have described how the staff at our Pediatric Heart Center in Nicaragua have continued their work in spite of destabilizing political strife in Managua affecting everyday life through much of 2018.

We applaud the courage and endurance of the local medical team. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals kept to a schedule of heart operations and welcomed visits from teams from other countries, including Mexico and Belgium within the past three months.

The results have been inspiring. The local team drew upon their training and began to perform more complex surgeries on their own.  We are pleased to report that they are now regularly correcting a congenital abnormality called “tetralogy of fallot” with successful outcomes for the children.  The abnormality means that the child’s heart has four difficult problems that need correcting all at once.

We receive regular reports from the local Director of our Surgeons of Hope program at the hospital, Dr. Gerardo Mejia. He is committed to the mission supported by Surgeons of Hope to bring about the local success. Together with our GlobalGiving donors, we are changing the lives of these children, as well as the lives of their families. The gift of a normal childhood, going to school or helping with farming, frees  that child’s family from constant care and worry.

On the more practical side, Dr. Mejia reports that supplies are holding up OK, but two echo-cardiograph machines are old and need replacement and the Heart Center is short four bedside monitors. That need will be our focus in the coming weeks, with your help.

Children in the photos accompanying this report have received operations since January. They are a sampling, but you can see the life-altering results in the faces of the children and their parents. Your generosity is reflected in these photos. Please continue your support through GlobalGiving

Samuel (12) recovering from surgery well
Samuel (12) recovering from surgery well
Ian (2) with parents is home now in Jinotega.
Ian (2) with parents is home now in Jinotega.
Jany (5) with her parents; home now in Leon
Jany (5) with her parents; home now in Leon
Adriana (2), from Managua, with her mother.
Adriana (2), from Managua, with her mother.
Adriana (2) is back for a check-up with a smile.
Adriana (2) is back for a check-up with a smile.

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Jan 15, 2019

Heart Center continues service during turmoil

Nurses work well together
Nurses work well together

We begin 2019, grateful for our loyal GlobalGiving donors who have continued their support at this critical period in the life and growth of our program at our Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua in Managua. News reports continue to detail tension within the relationship between government and certain arenas in the private sector.

In order to assess the situation first-hand and learn about specific needs, Surgeons of Hope founding board member Michel Longchampt visited our Heart Center in late November, and provided a detailed report to our governing board in December. One of his goals was to gain assurances that any visiting medical teams in 2019 would be able to visit the Heart Center in safety. His other goals were to visit with Health Ministry officials and hospital administration to learn how they are faring in the current political climate, and equally important, what their most pressing needs are that Surgeons of Hope might help to alleviate.

Michel reported that evidence of the unrest was subsiding, although certain aspects of the economy were slipping, particularly tourism. Bolstered by assurances from officials that our visiting medical teams would be safe, we are preparing to move ahead. There is a waiting list of 300 infants and children awaiting treatment at the Heart Center. Of those, 50 must be operated on within six months.

While the local surgical team is confident in the procedures necessary for straightforward cases, they are not yet proficient in the more difficult diagnoses.  Therefore, they are eager to see us schedule upcoming missions.

They report that surgical supplies have run low, and that some equipment needs repair, causing them to double up on the use of the remaining equipment. Their need for syringe pumps and monitors continues. Before the unrest, they had become nearly self-sufficient in purchasing supplies, but now we suspect that the supplies need to be refreshed.

Based on Michel’s report, Surgeons of Hope is looking toward arranging a medical mission to Managua soon, perhaps as early as February, when a team from Colombia could  be available.

Your GlobalGiving gift can help with these most urgent needs.  A recurring gift helps us to plan ahead, but your one-time gift is equally welcome for the near term.

Heart Center administrator in office
Heart Center administrator in office
Managing a wave for the camera
Managing a wave for the camera

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