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

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

Photo of Clarens post-operation

June 24, 2016

Clarens received life-saving heart surgery.

During surgery, Clarens’ pulmonary valve was opened to a near-normal size, allowing blood to pass through it freely. He should be able to live without further cardiac symptoms.

“I am so happy that Clarens could have this surgery and I no longer have to worry about his heart,” his mother said. “Thank you everyone!”

During surgery, Clarens' pulmonary valve was opened to a near-normal size, allowing blood to pass through it freely. He should be able to li...

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February 15, 2016

Four-year-old Clarens lives in Haiti with his mother and grandmother. He was born with cerebral palsy and cannot yet walk on his own. However, he is slowly learning to walk with braces and crutches.

“He is a very intelligent child and has already learned to read and write well,” says our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA).

HCA continues that in addition to cerebral palsy, Clarens has heart disease. “Clarens was born with a cardiac condition called valvar pulmonic stenosis, in which one of the valves of his heart is too small to allow blood to adequately pass through. As a result, oxygen does not reach his body in sufficient quantities, leaving him sickly and weak.”

Heart surgery can correct Clarens’ condition. Health City Caymen Islands has raised $5,000 to cover the cost of his surgery, and another $1,500 from Watsi donors will pay for Clarens’ surgery preparation, transportation, and travel funds so he can receive the surgery he needs.

“Following surgery, normal blood flow should be restored to Clarens’s heart and he should not have any further cardiac symptoms,” HCA says.

“I am so happy that this surgery will be possible for Clarens, and I thank God and everyone who is helping to fix my son’s heart,” says Clarens’ mother.

Four-year-old Clarens lives in Haiti with his mother and grandmother. He was born with cerebral palsy and cannot yet walk on his own. Howeve...

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Clarens's Timeline

  • February 15, 2016

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

  • February 18, 2016

    Clarens received treatment at Health City Cayman Islands in Cayman Islands. 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

    Clarens's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • March 2, 2016

    Clarens's treatment was fully funded.

  • June 24, 2016

    Clarens's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Overseas Prep and Transportation
  • 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 child joins a triaged waitlist to be placed for surgery with partner hospitals. It can sometimes take 6-12 months to move through this waitlist. During this period, HCA provides periodic cardiac checkups, changing the patient's triage position as appropriate. The child and his/her guardian then travel to the hospital with an HCA social worker. 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. When the child is strong enough to travel, usually after several more weeks, he/she returns home to Haiti. 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.