Healing Children's Hearts in Nicaragua

by Surgeons of Hope Foundation, Inc.
Vetted
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:

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.

Links:

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

Links:

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

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.

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.