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Mending Kids: Missions
Mission: Costa Rica
Where in the World Costa Rica, located on the Central American isthmus, borders Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Widely recognized for its varied wildlife, Costa Rica has beautiful landscapes filled with forests, mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and rivers. The population of Costa Rica is about 4,300,000 people, a quarter of whom live in the metropolitan area of the capital, San José. Despite the fact that Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in the Americas, profound poverty still affects many people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. Costa Rica’s poverty rate of 20-25 percent has remained the same for nearly 20 years. Poverty in Costa Rica is especially observable in rural areas and in certain parts of San José. Healthcare in Costa Rica The National Health System covers all medical needs of the Costa Rican population. The quality of healthcare in Costa Rica is considered to be one of the highest in Latin America. However, given the long waiting times for appointments (it can take months to see a doctor or undergo surgery), many residents choose a private hospital where appointments are more easily available. Private hospitals incur higher hosts for the patients and families than public health services. Currently, there are about 30 public hospitals and 5 private hospitals in Costa Rica. The majority of private hospitals are located in San José. The Children Following recent improvements to medical care, Costa Rica now has the longest life expectancy in Latin America. The Code for Children and Adolescents stipulates, “all minors will benefit from medical care directly and freely from the State.” Despite a very effective health system, problems such as infant mortality and death linked to contamination by the HIV/AIDS virus persist. In fact, 10% of children die before reaching the age of 5. The main problem faced by children in Costa Rica is poverty. One in four children live below the poverty line. In addition, child labor continues to be a challenge in Costa Rica, with 21% of child laborers not attending school. According to the United Nations Children Fund, 36,000 children in Costa Rica are orphans. Due to dysfunctional or non-existent family structures, many of them are at risk of ending up on one of the crime-ridden streets, where child prostitution, drug abuse and gang violence quickly become part of their everyday lives. The Mission The Mending Kids Surgical Mission to Costa Rica is a two-part mission with the goal of providing life-saving surgeries for 12 kids, while training local surgeon Dr. Rafael Gutierrez and his colleagues from the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San Jose in more complex interventional cardiology procedures. The first part of this mission will be led by Dr. Timothy W. Casarez, pediatric interventional cardiologist from CHLA, and will take place from February 15-20, 2015. The second part of this mission will be led by Dr. David A. Ferry, pediatric interventional cardiologist from CHLA, and will take place in the Fall of 2015. In Costa Rica, there are about 7 children per week diagnosed with congenital heart disease who need stent placements. While healthcare is free to children in Costa Rica, such an advanced technique is still relatively new. Stents provide an opening to increase blood flow and circulation throughout the body. A teenager may need one or two stents placed to help ease breathing and circulation. Currently, local surgeons require advanced training for such complicated cases, and the waiting list of children is too long for the limited number of specialized local surgeons to manage. This Mending Kids mission will provide the necessary training in order to create a sustainable program for the cardiac needs of children in Costa Rica and all over Central America. Goals The long term goal for this mission to Costa Rica will be to use the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San Jose as a center of excellence for care of the region’s pediatric cardiac cases. Children from all over Central America and the Caribbean who suffer from congenital heart malformations will be referred to the HNN to successfully get their hearts mended. Currently, Mending Kids must refer such patients to India or Israel, so having a nearer hospital to refer them to will reduce the anxiety and culture shock children feel when going through their healing process. Having a certified hospital in the region will also help Mending Kids continue to provide ongoing and sustainable training of regional surgeons.Learn More
Working with the local hospital in Mwanza, Save a Child's Heart, and Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, Dr. Salvatore (Sasha) Agati, pediatric cardiac surgeon from Rome and his team will make their inaugural trip to Mwanza to help further train local cardiac surgeon Dr. Geoffrey Godwin, who just finished a 5 year training in Israel. Infants and children will receive open heart surgeries and the teams will work together to train and learn together.Learn More
Mission: Haiti is all about our on-going commitment to provide life-changing and life-saving help to the children of the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The earthquake hit four years ago, but close to half a million of displaced people are still living in shantytowns like Cite Soleil, without running water or sanitation. Sadly, even simple medical needs can kill due to the lack of access to care. The Children Most of the children we treat come from Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. Some are orphans and some were displaced by the earthquake and live in camps with their family. Most all are impoverished, come from single family households and would most likely not get help, were it not for Mending Kids and other similar mission efforts. Progress The first two missions were strictly about training the OR staff and assisting the local surgeon, Dr. Jeudi, on emergency surgical cases. We provided mentorship while establishing post-operative protocols for the nursing care on the pediatric wards. Goals - Assess and improve the treatment and surgical care of children in Haiti. - Promote communication between pediatric anesthesia and pediatric intensive care. - Improve training of supervisory nursing care on the pediatric ward. - To provide a patient-centric environment that reduces pain and suffering and improves healing and psychological well-being of the children. Our goal is to continue this training until the local medical staff has gained the confidence to do these procedures without the support of International missions.Learn More
Where in the World Bordered by Eritrea to the north, Somalia and Djibouti to the east and Sudan and South Sudan to the west, Ethiopia is believed to be the birthplace of man and where, Lucy, the oldest human fossil, was found. More importantly, Ethiopia is a country of nearly 85 million without any comprehensive heart care program. This is a land where 1 in 100 children suffer from some form of congenital heart defect. In Ethiopia, there are physicians capable of diagnosing basic heart problems in children, but unlike any major city in the U.S. and Europe, there is absolutely no congenital heart program. There are only 19 anesthesiologists in the entire country. The vast majority of children with heart problems in Ethiopia have no hope to live anything close to a normal life, and are destined to live a shortened life punctuated by repetitive illnesses. Healthcare in Ethiopia Although urban areas of Ethiopia have hospitals with full-time staff and physicians, 4/5 of Ethiopians live in rural areas and lack access to healthcare facilities. There is less than 1 physician for every 10,000 people. Besides a shortage of infrastructure and personnel, the population suffers from a wide range of health problems, largely due to preventable and communicable diseases, as well as nutritional disorders. The infant mortality rate is very high, standing at 77 per 1,000 live births. The Children Researchers are still trying to determine why so many children suffer from congenital heart disease around the world and in Ethiopia. These children require surgery, whether it is an open-heart surgery or an interventional catheterization at some point in their early life, to correct the defect and allow them to live a normal life. The children we hope to mend will be arriving from all over Ethiopia and come from very poor families with little education and no other options. The Mission The Mending Kids Cardiac/Cath Surgical Mission to Ethiopia will take place from June 12-21, 2015 in collaboration with the surgical team from Star Hospital in Hyderabad, India. This mission to Ethiopia will be led by U.S. pediatric interventional cardiology surgeons Dr. Timothy W. Casarez and Dr. David A. Ferry of CHLA, and by Indian pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Gopichand Mannam. Mending Kids has invited Dr. Yayehyriad (Yayu) Mekonnen, a pediatric cardiac surgeon in his third year of fellowship with Save a Child’s Heart in Israel, to observe and learn advanced skills from Dr. Mannam on this mission. Dr. Mekonnen is originally from Ethiopia, and plans to return to Ethiopia after his fellowship in order to aid in the cardiac care of Ethiopian children. Dr. Yilkal Chanie, the new director of the cardiac center, will also receive advanced training on pediatric interventional cardiology by Dr. Ferry and Dr. Casarez during the mission. The goal is to provide life-saving open-heart surgeries and/or catheterization procedures for 30-40 kids, including training for local medical surgeons and staff. Goals The first two missions were strictly about open-heart surgeries. Last year, we added an interventional cardiology component to the mission to provide mentorship in the Catheterization Lab. Our goal is to continue the training in pediatric interventional cardiology, open-heart surgery and anesthesiology, so that the local medical staff may gain the confidence to do these procedures without needing international missions to assist them. Our X-Ray technician, Lexi Lynn Lee, will support all facets of mentoring in the Catheterization Lab, which is an exciting development.Learn More
Mission: Guatemala is a shining example of our on-going commitment to provide life-changing and life-saving help to the children of a nation still recovering from a civil war nearly 20 years ago and a country where nearly half of its population is under the age of 18. In 2013, we sent three separate medical teams there to provide specialized surgical care to the most underserved segment of the population. The Children Our young patients come from all over Guatemala, some enduring long walks out of their mountain villages to reach roads in order to get rides into the capital and the Moore Pediatric Center. We don't know why so many have congenital birth defects but suspicions lie in some genetic corn strains that block the absorption of folic acid. Guatemala City The Republic of Guatemala is located in Central America and is one of the poorest countries in all of Latin America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north and El Salvador and Honduras to the south. Guatemala, loosely translated is known as The Land of Many Trees. No stranger to earthquakes and land slides during the rainy seasons; it is situated in a corridor between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean which also makes it prone to tornadoes. Progress Our first few missions have been about building our relationship and mentorship with Dr. Hernandez (who has provided us with valuable pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care) and supporting the work of Dr. Graciela Minucci, the only pediatric neuro-surgeon in all of Central America. Goals - Expand the clinical training of on-site providers. - Create partnerships with satellite clinics to enhance pre-op and post-op care. - Expand the scope to include higher complexity surgical cases such as congenital anomalies. - Create a center of pediatric neurosurgery excellence and refer patients there from all over Central and South America. - Continue the training until self-sustainment has been established without the need for assistance from missions such as ours.Learn More
As a result of a meeting through the Rotary Club of South Pasadena, Mending Kids joined forces with Dr. Luis Vasquez of the Chicago Rotary Club, who was overseeing the build of a large hospital in the remote area of Yantalo, Peru. Last year, general surgeon Dr. Dean Anselmo and anesthesiologist, Dr. Brian Kim, lead a team to perform pediatric surgeries for children who had been waiting a long time for surgical help. When the team arrived, they learned that the new hospital was not yet ready for them, so in a pinch, they enthusiastically traveled a few more hours to operate at another hospital. This year, the doctors are returning and are looking forward to getting settled into their new hospital home base in Yantalo and working with local surgeons and nursing staff to educate and train on techniques and after care.Learn More
Mission: Costa Rica
In partnership with the Colorectal Team from Nationwide Children's Hospital, Dr. Marc Levitt and his international team will be traveling to Hospital Nacional de Ninos in San Jose, Costa Rica to train local surgeons traveling in from all over Latin America. In addition to a surgical training conference on colorectal surgeries (mostly surgical care to children born without an anus), Dr. Levitt and his team will operate on several children requiring this advanced care and scrubbing in with surgeons who would like to add this type of surgical work to their local practice. The team also includes advanced nursing care for the bowel management and wound care these children need post operatively to be successful long term and to maintain independent bathroom habits.Learn More
Mission: China is all about hope, love and mending children's lives. The mission is also about our ongoing commitment to local sustainability by partnering with local surgeons who are interested in learning both open and minimally invasive procedures to correct anorectal malformations (ARMs). Since 2011, Mending Kids has transformed the lives of 35+ orphans in Luoyang, China, who otherwise would have remained un-adoptable because of their congenital birth defect. Luoyang, China Luoyang was a capital of China for multiple dynasties. It is located in Henan province, with a population around seven million people. The city is situated amid the banks of the yellow river and is considered a UNESCO world heritage site because of the Longmen Grottoes. The city is also famous for its cultivation of peonies. We are not certain why there are such a high number of children born with anorectal malformations. Although China's one-child policy (intended as a population growth control) is softening, to have a child born with an imperforated anus is considered the worst curse on a family, one that carries on for generations. This might explain why these children are abandoned and end up in orphanages. The Children All of the ARM children on our mission are orphans in the care of Maria's Big House of Hope. They all are living with colostomies performed emergently in the first few days of life to relieve the obstructed colon. Unfortunately, all of these ARM children have little to no hope of being adopted without the corrective surgeries we provide. Once a child's ARM is corrected, they are very likely to be matched with a "forever family" and have a chance at a healthy future. Progress From training one surgeon in a private operating room to now performing surgeries out of Luoyang First People's Hospital, we are now giving half a dozen local pediatric surgeons the opportunity to not only participate but lead laparoscopic procedures to correct ARMs. This past year we worked alongside the Luoyang Women's and Children's Hospital in partnership with Dr. Zhai, Dr. Yang and his pediatric surgical colleagues. Through an exchange of knowledge and experience, Mending Kids participated in a Regional Pediatric Teaching Conference, utilizing the latest telemedical and live-surgery support, broadcasting several surgeries to young and mid-career pediatric surgeons throughout the region. The conference drew a large audience, raised awareness, continued building trust and culminated in a new declaration by the Chief of Pediatric Surgery. Dr. Yang announced, "We will no longer council parents of newborns with complex ARMs to take their babies home to die, because we have nothing to offer them. We now know how to repair these conditions and can offer infants not only life-saving procedures, but a good quality of life, thanks to the training your team has provided for us." The Pena stimulator, along with a prototype of the new Kimble stimulator, both developed as a result of past missions, proved their value in making these surgeries more affordable. Of equal importance, post-operative bowel management care, which is critical to the recovery of these young patients, was also taught and emphasized at the conference, with the participation of Janet Kimble, RN, an expert in the field and a veteran of dozens of missions with Mending Kids. Her instruction manual was also translated into Mandarin.Learn More
Our Four Core Programs
Kids with complex cases are provided transportation and are aided by our partner hospitals in India, Israel & Canada.
Surgical teams and volunteers travel to developing countries to perform surgeries and build sustainable programs.
In the span of one day, there are up to 20 free surgeries performed by volunteer surgeons for American Kids.
Kids from outside the United States are flown here for complex surgeries and stay with volunteer host families.
Who We AreMending Kids provides life-changing surgical care to children worldwide. Over the years, thousands of children have received corrective, transformational surgeries that have given them a chance at longer, healthier and happier lives. Most of the surgeries we perform are to correct congenital heart defects, orthopedic abnormalities, severe scoliosis, and significant cranial facial deformities.
Words cannot express my feelings nor our thanks for all your help. You are all a blessings to our family. You are all in our hearts forever and we treasured the moment you are there for us in time of our difficulties. My heart feels with joy and happiness that there are kindhearted people like you who value life and a helping hand to those in need and a HUMAN ANGEL to Heinrick's life.- Heinrick's Mom, Philippines
My heart is so full of joy that l don't even know what to write anymore. God bless you, your team and all those that donate to make this possible.- Joshua's Dad, Nigeria
Thank you so much and Mending Kids, at large. May God bless you so much for giving my child hope and live a new life as other people.- Susan's Mom, Uganda