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Success! Taina from Haiti raised $1,500 for life-saving heart surgery.

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Taina's treatment was fully funded on March 2, 2016.

Photo of Taina post-operation

March 30, 2016

Taina received life-saving heart surgery.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me have surgery,” Taina shared in her post-operative interview with the staff at Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA). “I am so happy that it went well.”

HCA reports that “during surgery, the hole in Taina’s heart was repaired with a patch. She should be able to live a normal life with no further symptoms from this condition.”

Now that Taina received the surgery that her heart needed to function properly, she can continue going to school. She will no longer become tired easily or experience the uncomfortable symptoms she previously felt.

"I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me have surgery," Taina shared in her post-operative interview with the staff at Haiti Cardi...

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February 22, 2016

“Taina is an intelligent and cheerful girl who enjoys going to school and is in the third grade,” says our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA). Taina also likes to play with dolls and make new friends.

Taina was born with a cardiac condition called atrial septal defect. “A hole exists between the two upper chambers of her heart,” explains HCA. “Blood leaks through this hole without first passing through the lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving her sickly and weak.”

Taina requires surgery to repair the opening between the atria in her heart. “Following surgery, normal blood flow should be restored to Taina’s heart and body,” says HCA, “and she should no longer have symptoms from this condition.”

However, Taina needs help securing funding for her operation. “Her mother passed away when she was young, and she lived in the streets for some time before being enrolled into an orphanage,” says HCA. Gift of Life International has contributed $5,000 towards her surgery, and an additional $1,500 in Watsi funding is needed to cover preparation and transportation costs, as this surgery is not readily available in Haiti.

With our help, Taina can receive the medical care she needs to restore her health. “I am very excited to have my surgery so that I can play with my friends without getting tired,” she shares.

“Taina is an intelligent and cheerful girl who enjoys going to school and is in the third grade,” says our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Al...

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Taina's Timeline

  • February 22, 2016

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

  • February 23, 2016

    Taina received treatment at St. Damien Hospital 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.

  • March 1, 2016

    Taina's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • March 2, 2016

    Taina's treatment was fully funded.

  • March 30, 2016

    Taina's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Domestic Pediatric Cardiac Surgery
  • 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 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.


Nereah is a beautiful four-year-old girl. Nereah is the firstborn in a family of two and likes to play a lot, which makes her parents very happy to see. At the moment, she has started preschool. Nereah’s mother is a homemaker, while her father is a laborer at road construction sites whenever he can get the work. They have had National Health Insurance in the past, but now to reactivate they are were required to pay upfront for one year, which they could not afford. Fortunately, the Nazareth Hospital Reception team identified their significant need and referred them to our medical partner's representative at the hospital. As Nereah's parents cannot afford the surgery, they need help raising $565 for her care. According to her mother, Nereah’s condition started when she was about three weeks old, but her mother did not realize it was a problem until about one year ago. She has been having frequent nose blockage and needs to breathe through her mouth especially at night, as well as as frequent common colds and swelling of her tonsils. Despite getting various types of medication, there has not been improvement. A scan showed adenoid-palatine hypertrophy, and the ENT team has advised surgery to solve her condition. If not treated, Nereah will continue suffering from symptoms and may have further complications like middle ear infections and sleeping disorders. “We have been waiting and hoping insurance would approve our surgical request, but now we don’t know what to do. We hope her surgery could be sponsored so that our daughter can get treated and stop suffering at night,” said Nereah’s mother.

3% funded

$545to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.