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Success! Emma from Haiti raised $1,500 to fund heart surgery.

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Emma's treatment was fully funded on August 31, 2017.

Photo of Emma post-operation

August 9, 2017

Emma underwent heart surgery.

During surgery, the hole in Emma’s heart was sewn shut, and blood no longer leaks through it. She should be able to lead a normal life with no further symptoms from this condition.

She says, “I am very happy that my surgery went well and that I don’t have to worry about my heart any longer.”

During surgery, the hole in Emma's heart was sewn shut, and blood no longer leaks through it. She should be able to lead a normal life with ...

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May 4, 2017

Emma is 11 years old and lives near Port-au-Prince with her parents, two sisters, and one brother. She is in the fifth grade in school and is a very good student. She hopes to become a teacher or a writer when she grows up.

Emma was born with a cardiac condition called patent ductus arteriosus, in which a hole in the heart which normally closes shortly after birth remains open. Blood leaks through this hole without passing through the lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving her short of breath.

Emma’s family took her to our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance. They learned that she will need to have a surgery soon to help her condition. Her surgery is scheduled on May 5.

Emma’s treatment has been subsidized by the Gift of Life International in the amount of $5,000. However, her family also needs help to fund the costs of surgery prep. The $1,500 bill covers labs, medicines, and checkup and followup appointments.

After treatment, Emma will be free from her condition and able to go back to living her life.

“I am happy to be able to have this surgery so that I can do everything my friends do without getting tired,” says Emma.

Emma is 11 years old and lives near Port-au-Prince with her parents, two sisters, and one brother. She is in the fifth grade in school and i...

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Emma's Timeline

  • May 4, 2017

    Emma was submitted by Owen Robinson, Executive Director at Haiti Cardiac Alliance, our medical partner in Haiti.

  • May 05, 2017

    Emma received treatment at St. Damien Hospital. 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.

  • August 09, 2017

    Emma's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • August 09, 2017

    Emma's treatment was successful. Read the update.

  • August 31, 2017

    Emma's treatment was fully funded.

Funded by 6 donors

Funded by 6 donors

Domestic Pediatric Cardiac Surgery
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $2,080 for Emma's treatment
Subsidies fund $580 and Watsi raises the remaining $1,500
Hospital Fees
Medical Staff
  • 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 treated by Haiti Cardiac Alliance tend to fall into two categories. They are either born with some type of hole or defect in the heart, or they develop valve disease as a result of an untreated strep throat infection (rheumatic fever). Patients with rheumatic valve disease experience swelling of the abdomen and extremities, as the heart tries to circulate blood through the body despite the valve's dysfunction.

​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. If surgery is required, the staff decides whether the child can be treated in-country or needs to be flown elsewhere to access care. If the child can be treated in-country, he or she is scheduled for an upcoming surgical mission. In the meantime, HCA provides periodic cardiac checkups. Typically, the child spends 4-5 days in or near the hospital prior to surgery for testing and examinations. After surgery, he or she spends several more days as an inpatient prior to being discharged. HCA provides regular cardiac checkups for at least five years postoperatively before the final discharge from their program.

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

These treatments are almost always life-saving in nature. These cardiac conditions are not survivable over the long-term without surgery. Within weeks after surgery, the patient should notice a difference in energy level. Many patients also undergo a growth spurt and/or gain significant weight after a surgery.

What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?

The risk of death during or shortly after an open-heart surgical procedure is about 3%. Other risks, though rare, include stroke and post-operative infection. In a small percentage of cases, the material used to patch the hole "blows," and a follow-up surgery is necessary to re-patch the defect.

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

Patients come to Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA) from the entirety of Haiti. This can involve three days of travel in buses, pickup trucks, or even on horseback. There is no cardiac surgery of any kind available in Haiti outside of the HCA treatment network.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

In general, patients are treated with medications to prevent heart failure until they are ready to travel. Patients may also seek care from traditional healers, who may use liquids and powders derived from local plants and roots.

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.