Completing their first mission to our new Pediatric Heart Center in Managua, Nicaragua, a 15-member team from New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia Medical Center (NYPH), led by Dr. Paul Chai who heads their Pediatric Cardiac Department, has returned safely to New York from their week-long mission. Nine infants and children received critically-needed open-heart surgery at the hands of the team as they collaborated with the local surgical staff at the Heart Center. Specialized training in essential surgical procedures was an integral part of the week’s work.
Our mission was the first humanitarian mission undertaken by NYPH in the country of Nicaragua, according to Philippe Lerch, Surgeons of Hope’s Nicaragua Program Director, in a preliminary report received today. “The NYPH mission definitely established the important role of our Heart Center and its future in Managua and surrounding regions in Central America,” Mr. Lerch said.
NYPH has volunteered teams for SoH missions in the past and the collaboration has been immensely productive in providing the best in heart care for the poorest children in other parts of the world. In 2004, when Surgeons of Hope was a young organization, the first four missions ever accomplished by us were led by NYPH teams traveling to Asia and Africa (Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Senegal). Jillian Kirkpatrick, RN, head nurse on Dr. Chai’s Nicaragua mission team, was also a team member for those 2004 missions.
Since the early years, Surgeons of Hope has focused on Latin America and sends teams from other leading hospitals in the US and Europe. Our history boasts about the steady, sure growth that our program provides, thanks to the help and support of our loyal supporters. For that we thank you all. Your donations continue to make our work possible for these kids. Team members Dien Vu, MD (anesthesia); Carmen Martinez and Melissa Varrone, RNs, sent along some photos which we know you will enjoy.