Parents around the world want the same thing for their children: relief from suffering and the promise of a long and healthy life. Watch our short, award-winning videos and read our stories about the lives saved and transformed by our work.

Patient Stories

Meet Ai Vy

Rach Gia, Vietnam

“I am going to get my heart fixed, and when I come back home I get to go to school!”

Ai Vy has long, pigtail braids. Her favorite toy is a special doll. She loves school. Two years ago, however, dreams for success in school seemed far away. She was diagnosed with congenital heart disease when a special screening campaign came to her school. Ai Vy’s parents borrowed money from family and friends to help cover the costs of surgery and travel to Children’s HeartLink’s partner hospital in Rach Gia City. Ai Vy and her mother made the two-hour journey from their home Rach Gia City by motorbike.

Before leaving for the hospital, Ai Vy told a young friend, “I am going to get my heart fixed, and when I come back home I get to go to school.” Ai Vy’s surgery to treat her heart defect was a success, and she and her mother were able to return home for a second chance at life. Ai Vy’s wish has come true, and she is now a thriving primary school student with a bright future.

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Meet Qirong

Lanzhou, China

“Without heart surgery I wouldn’t have this life.”

This gifted and ambitious young man was small and perpetually fatigued when he was young. He couldn’t keep up with his friends and classmates, and he sometimes fell asleep in class. At age 6 Qirong was diagnosed with a heart defect. He had corrective surgery a year later at our partner hospital in Lanzhou, China, a two-hour bus ride from his family’s village. Qirong has a vivid memory of bowing to the surgeon immediately before the operation.

“I never imagined that I would one day go away to university and then go on to graduate school in materials chemistry and mineralogy in Germany,” says Qirong. “I can run and play sports, and still have the energy to study hard. Without heart surgery I wouldn’t have this life.”

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Meet Olivia

São José do Rio Preto, Brazil

“Today we can provide care and operate on more complex cases, giving more children the chance to live. Better than that—the chance to live well.”

-Dr. Ulisses Croti

Olivia was born with a heart defect. Her older brother was also born with a complex heart condition, and sadly died months after a complex operation. When Olivia’s parents discovered their daughter would need surgery soon after she was born, they sought help at our partner hospital in São José do Rio Preto. The team there agreed that although it would be a challenge, they would try to help Olivia.

The day after Olivia was born, she underwent the first of two operations needed to treat her heart defect. Her recovery was a struggle. She had to overcome many obstacles to get better. A few months later, Olivia came back to the hospital for her second operation, also successful. Her surgeon Dr. Ulisses Croti pronounced Olivia officially “safe and sound,” with a normal, healthy life ahead of her.

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Meet Rifa

Kochi, India

When Rifa was 2 years old her heart condition worsened, and along with singing all day, she cried all night.

Like her older sister Ruksana, Rifa was born with a heart defect. Rifa lacked the energy to play like other 2-year-olds, but her mother recalls that ever since Rifa was small, she sang all day long. And when Rifa sang, her sister Ruksana would sing, too. When Rifa was 2 years old her heart condition worsened, and along with singing all day, she cried all night.

Rifa had surgery at our partner hospital in Kochi, India, which has been recognized for delivering “First World results in a Third World setting.” Rifa was treated because Dr. Krishna Kumar, leader of the pediatric cardiac team at AIMS, is a champion for all children. Now, Rifa and Ruksana are both healthy, with as much energy as any other children.

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Meet Phuc

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

“I hope that Phuc will grow up to be a helpful, good person. That she will have a good heart, caring and sharing with everyone.”

-her mother Cuc

If she had been born a few years earlier, Phuc would not have received the surgery that saved her life. Her cardiologist and namesake, Dr. Phuc, along with the entire medical team, received training from a Children’s HeartLink partnership that made it possible for them to deliver high-quality care for little Phuc’s complex condition when she was 2 years old.

Now Phuc is an active, loving school girl who loves to draw and play with her friends. She goes to school, where her favorite class is intensive English, and spends weekends playing with her neighborhood friends. She makes her mother proud by insisting on putting money into charity boxes whenever she sees them, evidence that she has a good heart like her mother always hoped for her. None of this seemed possible before her lifesaving surgery, but now Phuc is clearly thriving.

 

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Partner Stories

Meet Bruna Cury, RN, MSN

São José do Rio Preto, Brazil

“You can’t speak up about what’s best for your patients until you know what’s best for them. That’s why training and education are so important.”

Bruna Cury, RN, MSN, is a nurse educator at Children’s HeartLink partner hospital Hospital de Criança e Maternidade in São José do Rio Preto, Brazil. She has a passion for children and recognizes how critical nurses are to the recovery and care of young heart patients. Although her fellow nurses have a strong desire to provide high-quality care, they have limited opportunities in Brazil and don’t always receive the specialized training and education they need. “Working beside people who show us how and why to do things that help our patients is empowering and inspiring for our whole team. Our work has gotten so much better as a result of training with the Mayo Clinic and observing their amazing culture of respect and teamwork. None of these improvements would have happened if Children’s HeartLink hadn’t believe in us and created this important partnership.” In her role as nurse educator, Bruna helps other nurses feel empowered enough to make a difference in the lives of their patients: “I hope I can inspire other nurses by being a role model.”

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Meet Dr. Joseph Dearani

Rochester, Minnesota

“Heart disease kills and weakens the growth and future potential of millions of children throughout the world.”

Dr. Joseph Dearani, cardiac surgery chair at Mayo Clinic, has been a Children’s HeartLink medical volunteer for over 20 years. The babies he helped operate on two decades ago are now adults, studying, working and leading active lives. Dr. Dearani is committed to tackling the worldwide problem of congenital heart disease and considers it a gift to be able to help those who haven’t had the same opportunities he has: “This work is exceedingly fulfilling. It’s a win-win for the patients and families who need the care, for the medical practitioners who provide it and for the hospital environment they work in.” Along with continuing to lead medical volunteer teams on training visits, Dr. Dearani also serves as a medical director on our board.

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Meet Dr. Krishna Kumar

Kochi, India

“We had no choice. We had to start.”

When Dr. Krishna Kumar helped establish a cardiac program in Kochi, India, there were 150 patients already waiting outside before the hospital had officially opened its doors. It was the first hospital of its kind in southern India. Needless to say, he and his team had to get moving quickly because there were so many patients in need of care. Today, the Amrita Institute of Cardiac Sciences (AIMS) wins awards for their standards of care. And as a Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence, the team at AIMS trains other cardiac teams in the region.

Although Dr. Kumar credits Children’s HeartLink with being a catalyst, the program at AIMS would not have become the program it is today without his leadership. His visionary leadership and passion for helping those in need has made all the difference for countless children and their families who now have access to quality care for heart disease.

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