Reflections from a Board Member: Dr. Kenneth Stein

Published February 7, 2022

“What drew me to Children’s HeartLink was the focus on sustainability, not just on treating kids. Anyone you’ve treated is a victory. But, the emphasis on doing it sustainably and building the capability for them to do it on their own in the long run. This is just so important.” – Kenneth Stein, Boston Scientific

Kenneth Stein, M.D., FACC, FHRS senior vice president and chief medical officer, Rhythm Management and Global Health Policy, Boston Scientific, has served on the Children’s HeartLink Board of Directors since 2013. As we celebrate Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, we asked Dr. Stein to reflect on his time working with Children’s HeartLink and the importance of our work.

What have you personally taken away from your experience as a Children’s HeartLink Board Member?
It has been an incredible honor to serve on the Children’s HeartLink Board, to help this organization and its dedicated staff in its mission of saving the lives of children with heart disease in underserved parts of the world. As a cardiologist myself, I know that in the United States, by and large, we have access to the most advanced medical training and equipment available. For so much of the world that is not the case, and that is particularly heartbreaking as we think of young children who are suffering with potentially treatable conditions. With the support of Boston Scientific, Children’s HeartLink is helping to change that, at least in this critical area of pediatric heart disease. I am thankful to have played a small part in that effort.

Why did Boston Scientific choose to support Children’s HeartLink?
Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. As part of that mission, one of our priorities is working to improve access to quality care for underserved populations and supporting prevention and awareness programs to help people reduce their risk for chronic disease. One of the ways we strive to achieve this is through our Global Signature Health Grant program which focuses on providing access to healthcare by increasing the quantity and quality of healthcare workers and screenings for chronic disease.

Children’s HeartLink, with its mission of saving children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world, is exactly the kind of organization we look to support. We were especially drawn to their commitment to capacity building by training and mentoring staff who can go on to train and mentor peers from other underserved regions and parts of the world. It is the kind of pay-it-forward commitment we know is sustainable and will have the most impact.

What has been achieved as a result of the partnership between Boston Scientific and Children’s HeartLink?
Since 2018, Boston Scientific has supported two of the Children’s HeartLink partner hospitals in Malaysia, Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) in Kuala Lumpur and Serdang Hospital (Serdang) in Selangore, which provide the majority of pediatric cardiac surgical and interventional treatments in the country. Malaysia Nurses Training

This has helped to build capacity of healthcare workers within these facilities, which have in turn helped build the capacity of other hospitals in the region. So far, funding provided by Boston Scientific has helped train nearly 2,000 healthcare workers in treating congenital heart defects.

For example, with the support of Children’s HeartLink and funding from Boston Scientific, IJN has established an advanced nursing role which has helped address the shortage of critical care physicians. And since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Boston Scientific has supported Children’s HeartLink and its partner hospitals in pivoting to remote training and mentorship. As a result of this effort, CHL has learned many lessons about providing training and support remotely, and they hope to continue improving their methods and convert more in-person trainings and curricula into remote-friendly formats to reach more pediatric cardiac care workers across Malaysia and beyond.

In February 2022, Boston Scientific is matching gifts made to the Little Hearts, Big Change campaign–up to $15,000. 1.3 million children are born with congenital heart disease every year. More than 70% of babies with a heart defect will require medical or surgical treatment in their first year of life. Support Children’s HeartLink and support the training of medical professionals on how to care for children with congenital heart disease. Together, we can make life-saving and life-changing impacts for children and their families.

Since 2008, Boston Scientific has partnered with Children’s HeartLink to help increase access to heart care for children in Malaysia. With their support and the support of the Malaysia government, we’ve contributed to cardiac workforce expansion, national health care planning and financing for heart surgery. In Malaysia, 2,000-3,000 children require heart surgery every year, yet most don’t get the care they need. There are few pediatric cardiac programs and long patient waiting lists in this country of 31 million people.

Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. Founded in 1969, Children’s HeartLink currently supports 18 partner hospitals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. To support Children’s HeartLink’s mission and work, donate to the Little Hearts, Big Change campaign during February or learn more about the work we do.