Read our powered by our community 🙌 Check out our 🙌
Meet another patient

Watsi logo blueWatsi

Success! Nicolas from Bolivia raised $1,500 to fund heart surgery.

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Nicolas's treatment was fully funded on December 28, 2022.

Photo of Nicolas post-operation

February 1, 2023

Nicolas underwent life-saving heart surgery.

During surgery, doctors were able to successfully close the hole in Nicolas’s heart using a patch. Now blood can no longer leak through it, which will help him grow and develop in the years ahead. He should be able to lead an active life without further danger from his heart condition.

Nicolas’s father told us after surgery: “Our family is very grateful that our son has finally gotten the surgery he needed, and is doing so well afterward.” Everyone is happy to see Nicolas feeling well!

During surgery, doctors were able to successfully close the hole in Nicolas's heart using a patch. Now blood can no longer leak through it, ...

Read more
December 21, 2022

Meet Nicolas, a lovely, two year old boy. He lives with his parents and one brother in a nature preserve in the far, southeast corner of Bolivia, where his parents work as beekeepers.

When Nicolas was born, it was determined that he suffered from atrioventricular septal defect, which means that there is a large hole between all four chambers of his heart. Blood leaks through the hole without passing through his lungs and obtaining oxygen, leaving Nicolas weak and short of breath. Nicolas was also diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, has stepped up to help Nicolas access the care that he needs. On December 22nd, surgeons at Hospital del Niño Dr. Ovidio Aliaga Uría will close the hole in Nicolas’ heart, allowing the blood to flow normally, and enabling Nicolas to breathe without difficulty. Our medical partner is seeking your help to raise the $1,500 necessary to fund this procedure.

Nicolas’ father said: “We have been waiting many months for this surgery, and we will pray to God to bless everyone who is helping to make it possible.”

Meet Nicolas, a lovely, two year old boy. He lives with his parents and one brother in a nature preserve in the far, southeast corner of Bo...

Read more

Nicolas's Timeline

  • December 21, 2022

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

  • December 22, 2022

    Nicolas received treatment at Hospital del Niño Dr. Ovidio Aliaga Uría in Bolivia. 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.

  • December 27, 2022

    Nicolas's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • December 28, 2022

    Nicolas's treatment was fully funded.

  • February 1, 2023

    Nicolas's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 21 donors

Funded by 21 donors

Congenital Cardiac Surgery
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $4,000 for Nicolas's treatment
Subsidies fund $2,500 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. Parents might notice that their child 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.

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

Most congenital cardiac conditions will eventually lead to death without surgery, often within a period of months or years depending on severity. 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?

Pediatric open-heart surgery has only been made available in Bolivia in recent years. Most families are unfamiliar with the concept of open-heart surgery and are at first quite reluctant to allow their child to undergo this care. Indigenous belief systems in Bolivia can at times contribute to a family's reluctance to proceed with surgery, and must be addressed through thoughtful conversation and social accompaniment of each family.

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

What does the treatment process look like?

The child's cardiac symptoms are usually first detected by their local pediatrician, who then refers the child to the nearest pediatric cardiologist for exam and diagnosis. Once diagnosed, HCA works with the local cardiologist and the surgical team in La Paz to ensure that the child is enrolled on the waiting list for surgery at the hospital, and works directly with the family to facilitate their transportation to La Paz, often from very long distances, and to support them socially and logistically after arrival. The child then undergoes surgery and recovers for about a week in La Paz before returning home to their community. HCA then coordinates with the child's pediatric cardiologist to ensure high-quality, long-term follow-up care, and provides financial support for medications and doctor visits as needed.

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

These treatments are almost always life-saving in nature as the cardiac conditions are not survivable over the long-term without surgery. Within weeks after surgery, the patient should already 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 will separate from the edges of the hole, 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?

For families without private-sector insurance, the cardiac surgery program in La Paz is the only year-round surgical program in Bolivia capable of treating children who need open-heart surgery. Children come to this program from throughout Bolivia; many families live in extremely remote and mountainous areas that can require several days of overland travel to reach La Paz. For patients who live more than 8-10 hours away by road, HCA arranges for families to come by plane from the nearest commercial airport to their home.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

In general, patients are treated with medications to prevent heart failure until they are able to obtain their surgeries. 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.