On September 19, 2015, we completed our first surgical mission in Haiti. Our team of highly-trained medical volunteers travelled from the U.S., Canada, Chile, Venezuela, and Australia to join in this opportunity to save lives and provide education and training to the staff at Hôpital Universitaire De Mirebalais.
Thanks to the generous support of Chadasha Foundation, the majority of the medical supplies and equipment were shipped to Haiti in the months prior to the trip. Numerous hours of work were also put in by ICHF’s Director of Biomedical Engineering Roy Morris to assemble the equipment and prep the OR prior to the trip starting.
13 successful surgeries change lives in Haiti
On September 8, the first open-heart surgery was performed at Hôpital Universitaire De Mirebalais, when 19-year-old Ruls Jefky had his ASD closed. At the end of a challenging, yet exciting two weeks, 13 children underwent successful surgical repairs, and their lives have truly been changed forever! This is especially true for 11-year-old Bellinces, who suffered from pulmonary hypertension secondary to his unrepaired VSD. He had been previously turned down twice as being unrepairable before being presented to our team.
Urgent need for a pediatric cardiac program in Haiti
The infant mortality rate (death before 1 year of age) in Haiti is 49 per 1,000 live births, one of the highest in the world. Many of these deaths are due to infectious diseases and HIV/Aids, but like other parts of the world, birth defects—congenital heart defects being the most common—play an important role in the shocking under five-year-mortality rate of 73 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The urgent need for a sustainable pediatric cardiac surgical program in Haiti is no small one. According to the World Health Organization, Haiti has a birth rate of 22.8, which equates to approximately 2,000 babies being born each year with a congenital heart defect. Of those, 1,000 will require surgery to correct their defect. The overwhelming number of children currently waiting in Haiti, who have been without proper care over the years, is unknown.
Addressing the issue
A handful of organizations have been addressing this issue in two ways—obtaining patient assistance outside of Haiti and working to establish a cardiac program within Haiti; however, both methods are barely touching the giant waiting list. International Children’s Heart Foundation is committed to establishing an independent and sustainable program in Haiti so that Haitian professionals can treat their children with CHD and continue to serve the population there for years to come.
To donate to our Haiti Program, visit our Donation Page, and type “HAITI” in the additional info.