By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
Worldwide, over a million children are born with congenital heart disease every year. Millions more are affected by rheumatic heart disease, which is a disease that results from damage to heart valves caused by one or several episodes of rheumatic fever. While most heart defects can now be corrected or improved, children living in developing countries are routinely denied life-saving cardiac surgery because of their place of birth or the lack of medical supplies and equipment.
Given our shared desire to address health inequities in impoverished communities, MedShare recently partnered with Surgeons of Hope to ensure every infant and child with a damaged heart has an equal opportunity to receive life-saving surgery.
Surgeons of Hope approaches their work on three key fronts: 1) giving urgently needed care; 2) cultivating skills in local medical teams; and 3) constructing centers of care in developing countries.
Like many medical mission organizations, Surgeons of Hope was unable to fulfill its traditional approach to providing healthcare services due to COVID’s impact on international travel. However, the organization had raised funds and was looking for a different way to support their partner hospital, Acosta Ñu Children’s Hospital in San Lorenzo, Paraguay.
MedShare’s approach to building capacity within hospitals internationally, along with our unique ability to source critical product and equipment donations, assured Surgeons of Hope that they could support their local partner in a new and unique way. Surgeons of Hope funded a shipment to Acosta Ñu Children’s Hospital in San Lorenzo, Paraguay, and MedShare worked with them to source the specific items needed by the local pediatric cardiology unit.
Acosta Ñu Children’s Hospital in San Lorenzo is Paraguay’s only public hospital solely dedicated to infants and children. The cardiology department was founded in 2010 to ensure that children from poor families had access to pediatric cardiac care. As part of the local public health system, on which the majority of the population depends, the hospital is funded through public sources and supplemented with additional philanthropic support. Surgeons of Hope has been working with the hospital since 2019, when they completed 33 life-saving interventions, including 8 open heart surgeries and 25 interventional catheterizations.
To ensure these efforts would continue, MedShare shipped close to $500,000 of medical supplies and biomed equipment to the hospital to support critical infant and children heart surgeries for over 12,000 patients. The shipment was customized to support both pediatric cardiology and COVID relief, as the hospital had been overwhelmed with COVID patients, in addition to providing their ongoing pediatric services. In particular, this project benefitted from a unique donation of pediatric cardiac stents and catheters, generously donated by the cardiology department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
MedShare is extremely proud to support Surgeons of Hope’s efforts to save the lives of impoverished infants and children by building locally sustainable pediatric heart care programs in Latin America. Since 2019, they have conducted 37 missions, trained over 1200 health workers and provided life-saving surgeries to over 2300 patients.
To learn more about MedShare’s programs and to support our efforts, please visit www.medshare.org.