Success in Brazil: Hospital da Criança e Maternidade Named Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence

Published on November 9, 2021.

Thousands of children born with heart disease in southeast Brazil now receive high-quality cardiac care in their own country. Hospital da Criança e Maternidade (HCM) in São José do Rio Preto, which serves a multi-state region of 80 million people, has been rapidly evolving into one of the best pediatric cardiac programs in Brazil. In November 2021, Children’s HeartLink announced HCM as its first Center of Excellence in Brazil. This status is given to our partner who meets the criteria of high-quality pediatric cardiac services and becomes a regional trainer in heart care.

HCM partnership with Children’s HeartLink


“We are honored to recognize Hospital da Criança e Maternidade for their work and dedication to helping save and serve the lives of children with heart disease. Over the years, the HCM team has consistently delivered high-quality, complex care. HCM is the first in Brazil and the sixth hospital in the world to carry the Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence name. Congratulations on the thousands of lives impacted!” said Children’s HeartLink President Jackie Boucher during the official announcement.

“International partnerships are extremely important, such as the one you have in São José do Rio Preto, which certainly raises the qualification of health professionals, improves research conditions and reinforces the conditions of health care itself,” said Brazil’s Minister of Health Marcelo Queiroga. He recognized Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence HCM with this video

Partnership History

Children’s HeartLink’s partnership with HCM began in 2009. Our medical volunteers from the Mayo Clinic and Children’s Minnesota helped the HCM team significantly improve clinical care, reduce postoperative infections and reduce the mortality rate in complex procedures. During the pandemic, the support was continued virtually, with the involvement of medical professionals from the Mayo Clinic and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The article about HCM receiving the Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence status made the front page of the local newspaper, Diário da Região, in November 2021


“This support helped in developing an extraordinary and much-needed congenital cardiac program in that region. Having access to excellent care for children with congenital heart disease was not available in the area until this practice was developed,” says Dr. Grace Arteaga, a pediatric critical care physician from the Mayo Clinic and long-term medical volunteer in Brazil and India.

In Brazil, 65% of newly diagnosed children with congenital heart disease don’t have access to heart care. Because of the Children’s HeartLink partnership and the cardiac services available at HCM, this is no longer the case for the state of São Paulo and neighboring states.

Specifically, the following areas have been created and/or enhanced at HCM:

  • Improved patient care for children and families with congenital heart disease
  • Increased awareness of congenital heart disease in the region
  • Created a medical community addressing the needs of these patients
  • Implemented, expanded and maintained nursing education
  • Increased the medical experience for local pediatricians by enhancing the critical care knowledge

Partnership Exceeds Expectations 

HCM health providers say this partnership brings many changes not only to clinical care but also to culture, empowerment, teamwork and communication strategies.  

The Children’s HeartLink country director for Brazil reinforced the importance of our partnership with HCM in June 2022 during a visit to the hospital.

Read our blogs about HCM: Ten Years in Brazil Yields Complex Surgeries + Huge Decrease in Infection and How Medical Volunteer Patsy Stinchfield Cultivates Culture of Safety

“Children’s HeartLink represented a milestone in the history of the pediatric cardiac services in São José do Rio Preto. Mainly, Children’s HeartLink showed us how to evolve even without increasing the budget, but with the commitment of all the team and the empowerment of professionals in the areas of nursing, respiratory therapists, and others,” says Dr. Carlos De Marchi, a pediatric cardiologist from HCM.


Parenting instructions (PEDI) published on CradioPedBrasil, a new HCM education website for families with children with heart disease


“Many of our patients benefited from visits of the medical volunteers right on the spot. Our mentors helped us in different ways: from deciding on the best time to extubate a patient after surgery to saving lives through heroic measures. We have learned best practices from them and carry their shared knowledge with us daily. Even after the pandemic had hit, we were still able to gain knowledge from various incredible healthcare professionals and partners who have helped us with our patients,” says Bruna Cury Borim, a registered nurse and nursing coordinator of CardioPedBrasil, the HCM resource for parents and medical professionals.

CardioPedBrasil was created by HCM in January of 2021 to provide quality information for patients, families and health professionals. It includes free resources such as classes, images, guides and videos that help train and instruct families and professionals.

Borim adds, “We have grown in so many aspects that this partnership has overcome our expectations! Our team is extremely thankful for all we have learned, and our results show amazing improvement throughout the years of the partnership.”

The HCM team plans to continue improving their results and share their gained knowledge with other pediatric cardiac programs in Brazil.

Lives Impacted 

Read a story about a 12-year-old Maria Fernanda, who received a new heart at HCM. A few months prior to her surgery, she was in severe heart failure. Fortunately, the HCM team found a way to help Maria Fernanda. The online guidance they received from our volunteer institution Seattle Children’s Hospital helped them determine the best treatment for Maria Fernanda.

Watch a video of a thankful father, whose son Isaac was treated at HCM. The HCM team performed heart surgery soon after the baby was diagnosed with heart disease. “Everyone has been caring for him as if he was theirs.”


Since 2002, Hospital da Criança e Maternidade has performed:

  • 56,289 outpatient visits
  • 4,966 surgeries
  • 1,330 interventional procedures
  • 53,232 echocardiograms
  • 12 pediatric heart transplants

HCM established formal training programs such as the pediatric cardiology residency and pediatric perfusion training. They’ve established fellowships in pediatric and fetal echocardiography; intensive care; and pediatric cardiac surgery. They developed post-graduate cardiology and surgery programs in nursing and respiratory therapy. In 2013, the HCM team opened the Women and Children’s Hospital. This was a major milestone for congenital heart disease services not only in the city and the state of São Paulo but for the country as well.


Children’s HeartLink delivers its mission by leading multi-year training partnerships between medical volunteer teams from top teaching and research institutions and hospital professionals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam. When Children’s HeartLink was founded in 1969, we would fly children with heart disease to Minnesota. Since then, our model has evolved. Today, we send medical volunteer teams to partner hospitals to train their health care professionals. 


Read our blogs about other Children’s HeartLink Centers of Excellence:

In India: Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences: “Our Trainees Establish Cardiac Programs”

In China: West China Hospital Uses 3D Heart Models in Training

In Malaysia: Insitut Jantung Negara Helps Improve Cardiac Programs in Several Countries