Meet another patient

Watsi logo blueWatsi

Success! Christella from Haiti raised $1,500 to fund prep for cardiac surgery.

  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Christella's treatment was fully funded on June 10, 2018.

Photo of Christella post-operation

June 25, 2018

Christella underwent cardiac surgery.

During surgery, a patch was sewn across the hole in Christella’s heart, and the muscular blockage near one of her valves was removed. Blood now flows through her heart normally with no leakage, and she should be able to lead a normal life with no symptoms or danger from this condition.

She says, “I had a very nice time visiting the hospital but am excited to get home to see my friends and the rest of my family!”

During surgery, a patch was sewn across the hole in Christella's heart, and the muscular blockage near one of her valves was removed. Blood ...

Read more
June 4, 2018

Christella is a student from Haiti. She lives with her mother and aunt in a small village in the mountains of northern Haiti. She is in the sixth grade, and enjoys studying math and science in school.

Christella has a cardiac condition called ventricular septal defect with subaortic membrane. Her heart has two defects: a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart, and a piece of tissue that partially blocks one of the heart’s four valves. These conditions prevent blood from flowing normally through the heart, and could eventually be fatal.

Christella will fly to Cayman Islands to receive treatment. On June 7, she will undergo cardiac surgery, during which surgeons will close the hole in her heart with a patch, and remove the tissue blocking her valve. Another organization, Have a Heart Cayman, is contributing $17,000 to pay for surgery.

Christella’s family also needs help to fund the costs of surgery prep. The $1,500 bill covers labs, medicines, and checkup and followup appointments. It also supports passport obtainment and the social workers from our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, who will accompany Christella’s family overseas.

She says, “I am nervous about my surgery but excited to fly on a plane!”

Christella is a student from Haiti. She lives with her mother and aunt in a small village in the mountains of northern Haiti. She is in the ...

Read more

Christella's Timeline

  • June 4, 2018

    Christella was submitted by Owen Robinson, Executive Director at Haiti Cardiac Alliance, our medical partner in Haiti.

  • June 05, 2018

    Christella's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • June 07, 2018

    Christella received treatment at Health City 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.

  • June 10, 2018

    Christella's treatment was fully funded.

  • June 25, 2018

    Christella's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 18 donors

Funded by 18 donors

Overseas Prep and Transportation
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $1,980 for Christella's treatment
Subsidies fund $480 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. 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.