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

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Sanaa's treatment was fully funded on March 4, 2016.
April 12, 2016

Sanaa received life-saving heart surgery.

“During surgery, the hole in Sanaa’s heart was sewn shut,” shares our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA). “She should not experience any further symptoms from this condition.” Prior to her surgery, the oxygen in Sanaa’s body was not normally circulating, as the hole in her heart caused blood to be delivered to parts of the body before reaching the lungs to be oxygenated.

“I would like to thank God and everyone who helped Sanaa get better,” her mother shares.

Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain a post-operative photograph of Sanaa. This happens rarely, and we regret that we do not have a photo to share.

"During surgery, the hole in Sanaa's heart was sewn shut," shares our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA). "She should not experie...

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February 25, 2016

12-month-old Sanaa was born with a life-threatening heart defect called ventricular septal defect. This condition means she has a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart. “Blood leaks through this hole without first passing through the lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving her sickly and weak,” says our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA).

Sanaa lives in Haiti with her parents and newborn brother. “Her father works at a small store, and her mother cares for the children. Because of her illness, Sanaa is usually very tired and uninterested in playing, and frequently gets colds and fevers,” HCA explains.

Hundreds of children are born with heart defects every year in Haiti and unfortunately, many don’t have access to the life-saving surgery they need. Gift of Life International has raised $5,000 towards Sana’s surgery at a local hospital. We can fund the rest of the procedure, including overseas transportation and surgery preparation, for $1,500.

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

Sana’s mother shares, “I am very hopeful that after surgery Sanaa will be healthy and strong.”

12-month-old Sanaa was born with a life-threatening heart defect called ventricular septal defect. This condition means she has a hole betwe...

Read more

Sanaa's Timeline

  • February 25, 2016

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

  • February 26, 2016

    Sanaa 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

    Sanaa's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • March 4, 2016

    Sanaa's treatment was fully funded.

  • April 12, 2016

    Sanaa's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 35 donors

Funded by 35 donors

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.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.