Healing Children's Hearts in Nicaragua

by Surgeons of Hope Foundation, Inc.
Vetted
Reconnecting with Ana Rosa, RN
Reconnecting with Ana Rosa, RN

Progress at our new Pediatric Heart Center in Nicaragua is sure and steady, thanks to enthusiastic dedication from visiting surgical training teams and you, our Global Giving friends, who stay with us and repeat your support.  Without you, where would we be?  We begin by thanking you.

To bring our Global Giving friends up to date, two international teams have visited our Heart Center in Managua in recent months.  In April, a team from Madrid, Spain, paid their second visit, reuniting with Head ICU Nurse Ana Rosa who had spent some training time with them in Madrid.  The reunion was energizingly happy.  During their week-long mission, the team engaged in complex surgeries, collaborating with the local team, whose expertise continues to strengthen.  The benefit of a visiting team who shares the Spanish language with the local team is invaluable....communication is easy and more complete.  The catheterization laboratory is beginning to come to life and serve the little patients, too.

And then in June, an international team which we sponsored in partnership with the International Children's Heart Fund visited the Heart Center for continued surgeries, follow-ups, and more training.  That team, most of whom spoke Spanish, moved training along, and accomplished a few more than the intended ten surgeries, just because there were some urgent cases needing urgent care.  Local surgeon, Alan Tellas, MD, performed surgeries during the mission, and of course, continues to provide operations between missions, along with his team.

By now, we can report that all children in the photos have returned to their homes with healthier hearts and their childhoods ahead of them.

As the Catheterization Lab grows in its use, Dr. Gerardo Mejia, our Nicaragua Program Director, reports that they are running low on "catheterization probes", single-use devices.  They need one each time they use the machine. Understanding that Nicaragua is the second poorest country on our side of the world, this is where our Global Giving friends can help.  Your help in any amount is needed for this important life-saving work  We know you agree that no child should die for lack of access to the kind of care that is readily available to us in the developed world..

Thank you for your continuing friendship and caring.

Madrid Team at Heart Center with bags of supplies
Madrid Team at Heart Center with bags of supplies
Distracting Pedro with a surgical glove worked
Distracting Pedro with a surgical glove worked
Dayana was the first operation of the ICHF week
Dayana was the first operation of the ICHF week
Dayana is prepared for surgery
Dayana is prepared for surgery
A Father
A Father's Love Can Help Too

Links:

Ana Rosa providing comfort in Madrid
Ana Rosa providing comfort in Madrid

Sometimes, the impossible takes a round-about route to achieve the possible.  Surgeons of Hope is pleased to share this story of a Nicaraguan nurse's journey to Spain due to the efforts of her counterparts at a hospital in Madrid who saw in her a full measure of love of pediatric nursing along with a desire to achieve her potential.

This is the story of Ana Rosa, head intensive care nurse at our new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua, Nicaragua, our Global Giving assisted project with many, many Global Giving friends.  But, Ana Rosa's story begins with the caring of Madrid pediatric nurse, Gemma.  Gemma volunteered her nursing talent to join a team going to our heart center from France.  As this was her first time, she flew to Paris to join Dr. Metras who accompanied her in her travels. Her work brought her into contact with Ana Rosa, her Nicaraguan counterpart, with whom she found a collegial bond.  She realized that Ana Rosa would benefit from a visit to her home hospital in Madrid to learn modern ICU care for infants and children. Ana Rosa possessed the desire but not the exposure. 

Once she returned to Spain, Gemma organized a surgical team from her own hospital, University Hospital Gregorio Maranon and that team traveled to Nicaragua for a week of surgery, in the process, developing a desire to do more for our heart center and for Ana Rosa. 

Here is where the success come in.  The Madrid team invited Ana Rosa to speak at their hospital's 23rd  Annual Meeting, a professional conference, to which our own foundation president, Eduardo da Cruz, MD, was also invited.  The conference occurred early this month.  Ana described her first-hand experience at our heart center to a rapt audience.While in Madrid, she also spent intensive days in collaborative training and returned to Nicaragua filled with knowledge to share with her nursing staff and supported by the dedication of the Madrid nursing team.

With the help of our Global Giving community, this is what we do.  We operate, we train, and we build.  It is a simple as that.  This story is a perfect example of global reach, linking France with Spain with Nicaragua and even with Denver.  Ana Rosa is a favorite with the nurses at Children's Hospital Colorado, who have come to know and respect her dedication.  Good job, Ana Rosa and Gemma.  One of the Madrid nurses wrote in Spanish, translated here as, "I love Ana Rosa.  She really is a dedicated leader."

How can you join hands with this project?  This Wednesday, March 18, is a Matching Day at Global Giving.  If you make a small donation on Wednesday, Global Giving will match your donation at the end of the day.  Whatever amount you give will be increased, so your donation will go even further.  Please help Ana Rosa and us to do even more.

Ana Rosa telling the story in Madrid
Ana Rosa telling the story in Madrid
Collaborative training with Spanish nurses
Collaborative training with Spanish nurses
Madrid nurses with Ana Rosa
Madrid nurses with Ana Rosa

Links:

SoH administrators flank First Lady
SoH administrators flank First Lady

To ensure the sustainability of the new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua and to promote future exchanges of training initiatives, Surgeons of Hope responded to a request from the National Children's Hospital of San Jose, Costa Rica to send a surgical team to provide professional development collaboration and training for that hospital.  A team of volunteers from New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia Medical Center traveled to Costa Rica last week and operated on 11 children in surgical collaboration with the local team.  The collaboration was a great success.  All eleven surgeries were successful.  The National Hospital in Costa Rica is a short drive from our Heart Center.  Surgeons of Hope is promoting a future cooperation between the two medical facilities on a regular basis.  Toward that end, this NYPH mission was intended to promote that cooperation.  And, it did.

In conjunction with meetings with Surgeons of Hope administrators, a video team arranged by Costa Rica's First Lady, Senora Mercedes Pena Domingo, visited the National Children's Hospital and filmed the mission.  Great strides were made toward the desired cooperation.  First Lady Pena Domingo said that such missions are important to maintain surgical progress in her country and health for the children to reduce the waiting list for surgery and to offer a greater quality of life to all people of her country.  Dr. Ronald Quintana, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at the National Children's Hospital praised the sharing of knowledge between his hospital staff and the visiting team of specialists.  There exists the real potential of future cooperation between his hospital and our Heart Center in Managua.

Under the leadership of head surgeon Paul Chai, MD, of NYPH-Columbia, the eleven children received expert surgery.  All surgeries were successful.  One afternoon, Dr. Chai visited the post-op children in the Intensive Care Unit to see how they were progressing.  Leaning in to examine a two-year-old, the child reached up to give Dr Chai a kiss.  It was a moment for the whole team to remember.

For our Heart Center in Nicaragua, this regional progress is invaluable.  It is a giant step toward narrowing the gap between health care that is readily available in the advantaged world, but which is largely unavailable to impoverished countries in Latin America.

Our Global Giving donors are a key element in contributing to this success.  Please continue to help us in this effort. 

Although our teams volunteer their time, there are mission expenses to be covered by Surgeons of Hope in the form of transportation, logistics, and medical supplies.  With your help our Heart Center in Nicaragua will steadily grow in planned capabilities, and now in a partnership with the National Hospital in Costa Rica.

First Lady Greets Dr. Chai
First Lady Greets Dr. Chai
Song on Dr
Song on Dr's phone calms Britany's fears
Dr. McKenna reassures Brayan before surgery
Dr. McKenna reassures Brayan before surgery

Links:

Dr. Fragata of the Portuguese team with patient
Dr. Fragata of the Portuguese team with patient

Last Saturday, a volunteer surgical team flew out of snowy Colorado (Denver) to tropical Managua, Nicaragua, to provide open-heart surgery to impoverished babies and children who have been awaiting their visit.  With the arrival of this team, headed by our president, Eduardo da Cruz, MD, head  of the pediatric cardiac unit at Childrens Hospital Colorado, 10 children are slated for surgery to return their childhoods to them.  On Sunday, the children and their families gathered for the process of final scans and diagnoses from the team and readied for surgery, scheduled to begin on Monday morning and continue through the week until the team returns to Colorado on December 6.

With the help of GlobalGiving friends, we have been providing such surgery to the children of Nicaragua since 2008, but we do more than that.  Regular readers of our reports have seen the story unfold from our beginning with surgery at La Mascota Childrens Hospital, and the progressive training of the local medical team.  In late 2013, the local team was able to perform this miraculous surgery on their own, a giant step ahead.  At about that time, Surgeons of Hope completed the final phase of its building project, and in 2013, opened the new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua.  Since then, we have continued with fine-tuning of the training, providing equipment to the new Heart Center, opening the new catheterization lab donated by Philips Medical and continuing the progress toward a fully sustainable facility.

Please realize that GlobalGiving has been with us from the beginning...and this is where all of our donors can celebrate with us.  Without you, this would not have been possible.

Please think of us on Giving Tuesday (December 1) and support the Colorado team in your thoughts.  They will be working hard in the operating room and the ICU and the children move from needing surgery to recovery.  Know that the nurses and doctors will be at the bedsides of the little patients the whole time, as this photo from last month's mission team from Portual illustrates.  Our next report will have photos from this week's Colorado team.

Thank you for being a GlobalGiving friend.  Please open your hearts and give generously.

Diagnosing on Sunday
Diagnosing on Sunday
The new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua
The new Pediatric Heart Center of Nicaragua
The team from Portugal gathers for photo
The team from Portugal gathers for photo

Links:

Jose Fragata, MD, Mission Team Leader
Jose Fragata, MD, Mission Team Leader

Our next pediatric surgical training mission is set to travel from Lisbon, Portugal, to our new pediatric heart center at La Mascota Children's Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua.  The volunteer team of gifted specialists will travel from Hospital Santa Marta in Lisbon, led by renowned heart surgeon Jose Fragata, MD.  They will depart from Lisbon on October 31 and return on November 8.  During that exhausting week, they will operate on 10 pre-selected needy infants and children with heart problems that have plagued them for most if not all of their young lives.  15 or 20 children will be candidates for the surgery, but 10 will be chosen to receive their operations that week.

When he was assembling his team of specialists (assistant surgeon, 2 anesthesiologists, perfusionist, cardiologist, and operating room nurse), Dr. Fragata discovered that he had a big problem.  He had no intensive care nurses, and he needed five of them.  Everywhere he turned, he was turned down---the nurses were all needed in their home hospitals and could not leave their posts.  So, Dr. Fragata turned to Surgeons of Hope for help. 

Nicaragua Program Director Philippe Lerch, founder of Surgeons of Hope, got busy and contacted many of our former mission teams' nurses, enlisting the aid of our president, Eduardo da Cruz, of Children's Hospital Colorado.  Within ten days the problem was solved.  Five ICU nurses had stepped up and volunteered for the mission.  Two were from Madrid, Spain (Gregorio Maranon Hospital).  Two were from the cardiology department at Hospital Infantil in Bucaramanga, Colombia.  And, one agreed to come from Children's Hospital Colorado.

As the date for the mission draws nearer, the families hoping for operations will prepare to make the trip to Managua from remote villages.  To reach Managua, they will need to transport their child who will be too weak to walk.  The trip for half of the patients will mean being carried on foot, traveling by river even to reach a road, and if they are lucky, finishing the rest of the trip by bus over treacherous roads.  Once at the hospital, and if selected for surgery, the child and one parent will expect to remain at the hospital for two weeks to one month.  For the parent, most of the days will be spent sitting in a bedside chair.

As we prepare to send the mission, we call on our Global Giving friends who are extraordinarily supportive to keep us in mind.  This week, in fact, Global Giving is featuring an offer to match your RECURRING donation.  So, if you decide to give us a small donation on a monthly repeating pattern, this matching offer will go into effect.  Please consider it, as such recurring donations allow us to plan accordingly.  If you prefer to make a one-time donation, we welcome that, as always.

One of our board members, Michel Berty, visited our offices last week, presenting me with an opportunity to reflect on his visit last year to our new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua.  He said he was impressed by the people he met, including the "dynamic" surgeon, Allan Tellas, MD, and the cardiologist, Mireya Araica, MD, "who is an impressive, fantastic lady".  He enjoyed the open courtyard area where families are welcome to relax, and particularly the open-air veranda in the lodging pavilion (financed years ago by the Italian government as a gift), where families are instructed in a variety of topics, including providing care once the children return home from the hospital.

Please consider your connection to the work of Surgeons of Hope and the good that your donation will do.

Dr. Fragata Presenting a Training Lecture
Dr. Fragata Presenting a Training Lecture
Front Entrance at Pediatric Heart Center
Front Entrance at Pediatric Heart Center
Selecting the Children who will be operated on
Selecting the Children who will be operated on

Links:

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Surgeons of Hope Foundation, Inc.

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​surgeonsofhope.org/​
Project Leader:
Leila Hawken
Executive Consultant
New York, NY United States

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.