Thanks to the commitment of Heart Care International team members, host country medical professionals, corporate sponsors and individual donors, over the past 21 years, the Heart Care International team has been able to save the lives of over 1,000 children from Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru and Mexico. In addition, Heart Care International has conducted over 1,900 screening examinations and offered advice on the treatment of children suffering from congenital heart disease. In addition, Heart Care International is committed to enhancing the training and expertise of host-country surgeons, cardiologists, ICU nurses, OR nurses, respiratory therapists and ICU doctors to help the host-country develop their own self-sustaining pediatric heart care program.
Mission trips vary in length depending on the needs of the host country. Most mission trips typically last 2-3 weeks, with a Heart Care International team of 35-45 medical volunteers arriving on-site to attend to the needs of the host country’s sickest children. During the first week, the Heart Care International team, in partnership with the local medical professionals perform the screening examinations, echocardiograms and catheterizations leading to patient selection. Patients are identified and reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team during a final conference, before being notified that they will be receiving the life-saving procedures. In addition, during the first week, Heart Care International personnel conduct a series of lectures/workshops designed to inform the host-country medical professionals about best practices and to bring a tighter bond for all supporting members of the mission team.
The second week of each mission is dedicated to performing heart surgery on 12 - 18 children who have run out of options in order to survive. At the end of the surgical week all team members attend a wrap-up meeting to debrief on the patients that are still in the ICU, discuss learning points and to plan strategies for future missions. The ICU team stays for an additional week to ensure the continuity of care for those children still recovering from their procedures.
The most common heart defects Heart Care International treats include Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), Tetralogy of Fallot (TET), Coarctation of the Aorta, Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), and Valve repairs. The surgical results are outstanding, consistent with the results achieved in the finest centers in the United States. Heart Care International’s partnerships with the host-country medical teams not only impacts the children on each mission, but also results in the host country’s development of a sustainable pediatric cardiothoracic program.