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Meet another patient

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

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

Photo of Nehemie post-operation

March 30, 2016

Nehemie received life-saving heart surgery.

Nehemie’s operation was a success. Our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), reports: “During surgery, the holes in Nehemie’s heart were closed with a patch. She should not experience further symptoms from this condition.”

Prior to her surgery, the oxygen in Nehemie’s body was not normally circulating, as the holes in her heart caused blood to pass through the chambers before reaching the lungs to be oxygenated. Thanks to Watsi donations and doctors at HCA, this will no longer be a problem for Nehemie.

Her mother shares, “We are very happy that Nehemie’s surgery went well and that she will be able to walk to school every day without getting tired!”

Nehemie's operation was a success. Our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), reports: "During surgery, the holes in Nehemie's heart...

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February 24, 2016

Six-year-old Nehemie lives with her mother and father in Haiti. She enjoys attending school and playing with friends in her kindergarten class.

“Nehemie was born with a heart defect called atrioventricular canal defect,” our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance (HCA), tells us. “Holes exist between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, allowing blood to pass freely through all four chambers. This leads to heart failure and deprives the body of oxygen, leaving her sickly and weak.”

“We have been very worried about Nehemie because she cannot keep up with the other children and gets tired very easily,” shares Nehemie’s mother.

To repair Nehemie’s heart defect, doctors will perform a surgical procedure known as cardiac catheterization. Using imaging as a guide, doctors will thread a catheter—a thin, flexible tube inserted into a blood vessel—from the groin to the holes in the heart. Next, they will position a mesh patch contained within the catheter to close the holes and then remove the catheter. Over time, heart tissue grows into and around the mesh to permanently close the holes.

For $1,500, HCA will provide the overseas preparation and transportation required for Nehemie’s surgery. Gift of Life International has donated $5000 to cover the costs of surgery and post-operative hospital care.

“Following surgery, Nehemie should be able to lead a normal life with no further symptoms from this condition,” says HCA. Let’s help make that happen!

Six-year-old Nehemie lives with her mother and father in Haiti. She enjoys attending school and playing with friends in her kindergarten cla...

Read more

Nehemie's Timeline

  • February 24, 2016

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

  • February 24, 2016

    Nehemie 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

    Nehemie's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • March 2, 2016

    Nehemie's treatment was fully funded.

  • March 30, 2016

    Nehemie's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 34 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.


Faith is a beautiful four-month-old baby from Kenya. She is the youngest of two children. To support their family, her mother is a stay-at-home mom, and her father herds and sells cattle. Faith was born at home with several congenital conditions. Her parents took her to a nearby facility for examination, where she was diagnosed with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and clubfoot. They were referred to another facility where a medical device, called a shunt, was used to help treat the hydrocephalus, draining the excess fluid from her brain. On discharge, the hospital referred her and her family to our medical partner's care center, BethanyKids Kijabe Hospital, where Faith was examined and scheduled for spina bifida repair surgery. Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect in which the spine does not properly close around the spinal cord. Without treatment, Faith is at risk of lower-limb paralysis, infection of the exposed nervous tissue, development of tethered cord syndrome, and possible developmental delays. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $1,151 to cover the cost of Faith's spina bifida closure surgery. The surgery is scheduled to take place on July 13th. This procedure will hopefully spare Faith from the risks associated with her condition, instead allowing her to grow and develop along a healthy trajectory. Faith’s father says, “When I saw the problems that my child has, I was worried that she would never receive treatment. I am hopeful she will receive treatment with your help.”

80% funded

$223to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.