Where We Work
While life-saving heart surgery is readily available to children in wealthier countries, the majority of children in developing nations cannot access this critical care. Surgeons of Hope works in impoverished communities worldwide to provide medical education, resources, and surgical skills where they are most needed. The Surgeons of Hope model is designed to empower the communities that we work with, and to meet their unique goals and needs.
Surgeons of Hope has made a difference in the lives of children with heart defects across the globe. Read more about our work in Latin America, and about our pilot programs in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Senegal and Mozambique.
The Need in Mexico
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the second leading cause of death among children under five years of age in Mexico, with a higher incidence rate of 8-12 per 1,000 live births compared to the global average of 6-8 per 1,000 live births. Despite several competent pediatric cardiac programs in Mexico, those programs are not sufficient to accommodate all children with CHD, leaving a long list of children awaiting these life-saving interventions.
Surgeons of Hope conducted an assessment mission in July 2022 to the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez (HIMFG). The hospital's rich history and dedicated staff were an inspiration to the team. SoH is currently exploring ways to best support the hospital.
The Need in Paraguay
The current infant mortality rate for Paraguay in 2022 is 17.802 deaths per 1000 live births, a 1.69% decline from 2021. The infant mortality rate for Paraguay in 2021 was 18.108 deaths per 1000 live births, a 1.66% decline from 2020.
Surgeons of Hope has been a driving force behind the development of Paraguay’s national pediatric cardiology program at the Acosta Ñu Children’s Hospital in San Lorenzo (just outside of Asunción – the country’s capital) since 2019.
Dr. Nancy Garay, a pediatric cardiologist, founded the department in 2010 to ensure that children from poor families have access to pediatric cardiac care. The hospital is part of the local public health system,on which a majority of the population depends. It receives financing from the Ministry of Health and some corporate & philanthropic donors.
Surgical Training Missions
At the Acosta Ñu Children's Hospital, SOH has carried out two surgical missions. The first mission took place in March 2019 and involved a team of 15 volunteers from Madrid's Gregorio Marañon and La Paz Hospitals, led by Drs. Constancio Medrano and Juan M. Gil Juarena. Working alongside the local team, they effectively completed 10 open heart surgeries and 25 cardiac catheterizations. The second mission took place in December 2022 and included a team of 9 volunteers from France led by Dr. Dominique Metras. They worked with the local team to successfully perform 9 open heart surgeries. The next surgical and catheterization mission is scheduled to take place from 15-22 April 2023 and aims to treat more than 35 children. Notably, this mission marks the first collaboration between SOH and Mending Kids, a non-profit organization based in California, USA. Mending Kids is generously contributing critical supplies required for the mission's success.
Check our videos from our trip here:
The Need in Costa Rica
Congenital heart disease is among the most common congenital malformations and have a great impact on morbidity and pediatric mortality.
In Costa Rica, heart disease is the second leading cause of death, resulting in 16% of overall deaths, while congenital heart diseases have the most fatal impact on death rates related to birth defects. About 83% of deaths from CHD occur in children younger than 1 year, representing 13% of infant mortality in the country.
Costa Rica has 74% less doctors per person than the USA, making proper health care access difficult to reach. Besides this significant physician shortage, public hospitals are in great need of repairs and upgrades.
But thanks to your support, Surgeons of Hope is now able to screen, treat, and educate local families and doctors!
Our work in Costa Rica started in October of 2014, when our Co-Chair, Dr. da Cruz was invited to travel to San Jose to help enhance an existing surgical program at the Hospital Nacional De Ninos (National Children’s Hospital). SoH helped to drastically improve medical outcomes and proctored the implementation of a system that helps detect CHD and the need for early treatment.
Through restructuring the program and intensive training of the local team, SOH managed to reduce mortality rate from 8 % in 2014 to 1.4 % in 2016, in line with developed countries.
From 2014 to 2019, a total of 1,500 children have been operated in Costa Rica, including those operated during SOH’s missions with a 97.3% survival rate (better than the STS average). Our last mission to Costa Rica before the pandemic was in October 2019.
SOH resumed missions to Costa Rica after a 3-year hiatus in February 2023. The mission was a success and 9 children received life-saving treatment. Surgeons of Home will return to Costa Rica in May & June 2023.
Take a look at some of the pictures of our team here: https://vimeo.com/813519883
Surgeons of Hope in Nicaragua
The Need in Nicaragua
The child mortality rate is 27 children per 1000 live births, as compared to just 8 per 1000 live births in the US.
Heart-related complications are a leading cause of child mortality.
Over 1000 children are on waiting lists for heart procedures.
Our Work in Nicaragua
When Surgeons of Hope began our work in Nicaragua, La Mascota Children’s Hospital lacked many essential surgical resources. Much of the equipment was outdated or nonfunctional, including broken sterilization and echocardiography machines. There was no catheterization laboratory and supplies were extremely limited. Adequate cardiac centers only existed in Costa Rica and Guatemala. In order to treat children with heart defects in this region of Central America, advanced medical training and the construction of a modern medical facility was essential.
With the financial support provided by the governments of Nicaragua, Spain and Taiwan and the equipment donated from major medical companies. SoH was able to build and equip the country’s first pediatric heart center which opened in July of 2013. The center has the capacity to house 300 heart surgeries and 12,000 screenings each year.
Surgical Training Missions
Surgeons of Hope has conducted over 25 surgical training missions at La Mascota Children’s Hospital from 2008-2019 which includes over 750 surgeries. These missions have been carried out by surgical, medical and nursing volunteers from Belgium, Colombia, France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the United States. Generous financial support for accommodation, travel and equipment/supplies has been contributed by Abbott, AFYA, Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, Edwards Medical Supply, La Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgique, Let It Beat, Publicis Groupe, Project C.U.R.E. and ScanLan, in addition to the volunteers’ hospitals, and Surgeons of Hope’s individual charitable donors. Significant monetary and in-kind contributions to outfit the Pediatric Heart Center were made by the Government of Taiwan, Phillips and Project C.U.R.E. The last surgical training mission Surgeons of Hope performed at La Mascota was in August 2019. The mission was conducted by a team of 12 surgical, medical and nursing professionals from Colombia. 8 open heart surgeries were performed during the week-long mission.
In 2020, Surgeons of Hope focused on supporting the Pediatric Heart Center’s COVID-19 relief efforts in the following ways:.
- Providing food and hygiene products for over 110 patients and their families throughout the country. This effort was done in partnership with Super Express, a local supermarket chain.
- Offering a grant to purchase medical supplies that were in short supply.
Additionally, the Heart Center team was invited to participate in webinars about COVID-19 and the impact it has on children with congenital/acquired heart disease. Sharing of COVID-19 treatment updates and best practices among the teams Surgeons of Hope supports led to the first case of COVID-related Multi-Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) being diagnosed at La Mascota Children’s hospital.
In 2021, Surgeons of Hope's Board of Directors decided to temporarily suspend its on-the-ground activities in Nicaragua.
Surgeons of Hope will continue its support of the local surgical team at La Mascota Heart Center, which it has supported since 2008, through e-learning opportunities and remote case consultations. It will continue to monitor the situation to decide when it can resume its on-the-ground activities.
The development of the Phnom Penh Heart Center was led by La Chaine de l’Espoir, the sister organization of Surgeons of Hope. The 28-bed Heart Center and 22-bed Children’s Pavilion officially opened in 2001, following an inauguration by King Sihanouk, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and the Minister of Health of Cambodia. Since the opening of the center through 2006, Surgeons of Hope provided financial and surgical support, including three surgical missions, which resulted in 75 cardiac surgeries for children in need. Thanks to the financial support of our generous donors, including Central Presbyterian Church, Edwards Lifesciences, Irving, and AGA Medical Corp, all of the children treated during Surgeons of Hope missions could be accommodated by a member of their family at the Children’s Pavilion. The Phnom Penh Heart Center also received important donations of equipment and supplies through the support of Surgeons of Hope, including an echocardiograph machine, three Philips ultrasounds from New York Presbyterian Hospital, 600 stents from Medtronic, and more than 60 cardiac valves, courtesy of Edwards Lifesciences and Saint Jude Children’s Hospital.
For decades, Afghanistan has faced constant political instability, conflict, and the destruction of its infrastructure, economy, and environment. The healthcare system is one of the worst affected social sectors, with the majority of the population depending on external assistance. Shortly after 9/11, the founder of La Chaine de l’Espoir and Surgeons of Hope, Alain Deloche, and Dr. Nilab Mobarez proposed the construction of a children’s hospital in Afghanistan. La Chaine de l’Espoir worked alongside the Afghani government and President Amid Karzai to develop plans for the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul. The first cardiac surgeries were performed on Afghan children in 2005. In cooperation with La Chaine de l’Espoir, Surgeons of Hope sent a medical mission led by Professor Francois Lacour-Gayet of the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital. During this mission, 15 cardiac surgeries were performed on Afghani children with heart defects.
In 2001, the Maputo Heart Institute opened in Mozambique. Former Vice President of La Chaine de l’Espoir and board member of Surgeons of Hope, Dr. Daniel Sidi, led the initiative. The Maputo Heart Institute was designed to provide preventative care and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, as well as to operate as an academic center for cardiac research and training. In 2001, the 30-bed hospital opened. Several years later, in 2006, the research center on cardiovascular diseases and endomyocardial fibrosis, opened. Through 2007, Surgeons of Hope and other affiliates sponsored up to five interventional surgical missions every year.
For over ten years, La Chaine de l’Espoir has been actively involved in Senegal to help children with heart defects access medical and surgical care. The contributions of La Chaine de l’Espoir and Surgeons of Hope Foundation have led to life-saving treatment or surgery for over 150 children and the donation of over $300,000 of medical supplies and equipment, as well as training for local healthcare providers.