Meet another patient

Watsi logo blueWatsi

Mirlene from Haiti raised $1,500 for a life-saving diagnostic test.

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Mirlene's treatment was fully funded on December 31, 2015.

Photo of Mirlene post-operation

October 31, 2016

Mirlene successfully received a life-saving diagnostic test.

During the procedure, a catheter was inserted into Mirlene’s heart to take detailed measurements and determine whether she could safely undergo cardiac surgery. Unfortunately, the procedure determined that her cardiac defect is not operable. The doctors have started her on a number of medications to strengthen her heart and enable her to live as normal a life as possible, despite not being able to have surgery.

During the procedure, a catheter was inserted into Mirlene's heart to take detailed measurements and determine whether she could safely unde...

Read more
December 23, 2015

Mirlene is three years old, and lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with her mother, aunt, and cousins. She has not yet started preschool but likes to play with the kids in her neighborhood and draw.

“Mirlene was born with a cardiac condition called complete atrioventricular septal defect, in which multiple holes exist between the upper and lower chambers of her heart,” says our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA). “Blood flows through these holes in her heart without first passing through the lungs to get oxygen, leaving her sickly and short of breath. Because of the severity of this condition, there is a chance it may not be repairable, but the only way to determine this is by inserting a catheter into the chambers of her heart. Since this is not possible in Haiti, arrangements are being made to bring her to Dominican Republic to perform this extremely important test in the hopes that she can have heart surgery later in the year.”

For $1,500, Mirlene will receive this life-saving procedure to determine the rest of her treatment plan. This cost also covers her travel and transportation costs between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

“I am so happy that there is a way forward for Mirlene,” her mother says. “We are hoping for a good result from this test.”

Mirlene is three years old, and lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with her mother, aunt, and cousins. She has not yet started preschool but lik...

Read more

Mirlene's Timeline

  • December 23, 2015

    Mirlene was submitted by Owen Robinson, Executive Director at Haiti Cardiac Alliance.

  • December 29, 2015

    Mirlene's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • December 31, 2015

    Mirlene's treatment was fully funded.

  • June 21, 2016

    Mirlene received treatment at Clinica Corominas in Haiti. Medical partners often provide care to patients accepted by Watsi before those patients are fully funded, operating under the guarantee that the cost of care will be paid for by donors.

  • October 31, 2016

    We received an update on Mirlene. Read the update.

Funded by 20 donors

Funded by 20 donors

Diagnostic Heart Catheterization
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
  • Symptoms
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Cultural or regional significance

​What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?

When a hole exists in the heart, a physician can hear a buzzing noise, or murmur, in the child's chest as blood passes through the hole at high velocity. The child's parents might notice that their son or daughter cannot keep up with other children in daily activities. In severe cases, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream can lead to dramatic symptoms, such as blue lips and tongue, clubbed fingers and toes, and heart failure. The patients who undergo diagnostic catheterization are born with one of several types of congenital holes or defects in the heart.

​What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?

Virtually all of the conditions treated at Haiti Cardiac Alliance will eventually lead to death without surgery, the majority of them within one to two years. In the meantime, patients experience heart failure as their hearts struggle to compensate for the presence of leaks or other defects. In most conditions, the heart becomes fatigued, limiting the child's ability to be active, go to school, and participate in daily life.

What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?

Families in Haiti often have complex cultural mechanisms for understanding cardiac illnesses and their causes, sometimes involving voudou or other religious belief systems. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Haitian families in our medical partner's program also engage with the medical explanations and treatment of these conditions. Parents are willing and cooperative participants in their child's treatment.

  • Process
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Risks and side-effects
  • Accessibility
  • Alternatives

What does the treatment process look like?

The patient is first referred to our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), by a pediatrician or another medical practitioner who detects symptoms that might be cardiac in nature. HCA staff then perform an echocardiogram to diagnose the cardiac condition. In some cases, the child may be eligible for surgery, but only after a cardiac catheterization to determine whether the pressures upon the lungs are still reversible. In this case, the child travels to the Dominican Republic to undergo this procedure. The child stay in the hospital overnight and is discharged the next day. Once the results are received, HCA can decide on next steps.

What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?

The cardiac catheterization itself is diagnostic in nature and does not cure the patient's heart condition. However, the patient cannot be accepted for surgery anywhere without first undergoing this procedure. It is thus a life-saving step in his or her treatment plan.

What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?

Diagnostic catheterization is a relatively low-risk procedure. However, risks include excessive bleeding at the incision site and accidental puncture of the cardiac tissue with the catheter probe.

How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?

The country of Haiti currently has no cardiac catheterization lab, which is why all of HCA's patients must travel to Dominican Republic for this service.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

There are no alternatives to diagnostic catheterization for measuring pulmonary pressures and assessing surgical viability.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.