New Perspectives for Pediatric Cardiology in Haiti

A partnership is established for the benefit of Haitian children with heart disease.

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St. Damien Pediatric Hospital can now provide surgical care for children with heart disease through a partnership with Gift of Life International, Rotary Clubs in Haiti and the United States, Akron Children’s Hospital, Haiti Cardiac Alliance and Open Hearts Haiti. This program will intensify as Haitian staff are trained to provide care for the children in their own country. This is an extraordinary opportunity for St. Damien Hospital to partner with these nongovernmental organizations to implement this lifesaving program for the children of Haiti.

In the long term, the St. Damien Hospital will, thanks to this support, develop its own capacity to operate on children with heart disease. “We are very excited as we begin the first phase of a project to ensure lifesaving heart surgery to children in Haiti. We are committed to this initiative for the benefit of the children, bringing them hope,” said Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Executive Director of St. Damien Hospital. This hospital is one of the best pediatric hospitals in Haiti.

Thousands of Haitian children suffer from heart disease. About 2,000 are born with some form of this disease and 50% require surgery. The need is great in Haiti.

“In recent years, Akron Children’s Hospital joined the Saint Damien Hospital in its efforts to provide quality care to Haitian children. One of our major goals is to help St. Damien Hospital to provide care for children with heart disease.” reveals Dr. Francois Lacour-Gayet, a hospital in Ohio in the United States.

Teams of medical specialists will offer their services and expertise to train staff at St. Damien. “Our mission is ultimately to help developing countries provide care to children with heart disease in their country of birth. We are working to make cardiac surgery accessible to the large number of Haitian children with heart disease, “said Rob Raylman, Executive Director of Gift of Life International.

Funding for this initiative is provided by numerous partners including the Rotary International Foundation. The project is coordinated with the help of Haitian Gift of Life affiliate: Kado Lavi, a leader in Haiti to provide care to children with heart disease. Recently, Rotary clubs and districts worldwide partnered a Rotary global grant totaling US $146,000 with the Rotary Club of Port au Prince. “The Rotary Club of Port Au Prince is proud to present these funds to provide staff training, procurement of supplies, medications and equipment necessary to support the program at Saint Damien said Dr. Joseph Guillaume, President of the Rotary Club of Port Au Prince.

The first cardiac surgery mission to Gift of Life International is led by Dr. Francois Lacour-Gayet, a surgeon at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, England. The mission will take place from March 15–20, 2015. 12 Haitian children will benefit. Without this opportunity, their chances would be very minimal for treatment or simply non-existent.

Photo credits: Ted Stevens

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