Do you want to know what heroes look like?
This year’s Mend and Love Honorees Dr. Evan Zahn and Dr. Salvatore Agati are currently in the island nation of Mauritius this week mending hearts and saving the lives of 30+ kids. These efforts are made possible by the support of your donations.
A little over two weeks away, our Imagine Gala: The Beat Goes On, hosted by our wonderful Mending Kids Ambassador, Ms. Tia Carerre, will be honoring these two Lifesavers and the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club (for their efforts for the Hometown Missions).
The funds raised on April 2 will determine how many more lives we can save and transform in 2022.
The world is opening up, we are answering the call to help, please join us in celebrating our heroes, our accomplishments and planting seeds for the future. Together, we are mending kids.
Dear friends and Mending Kids Family,
On Tuesday, November 30th, millions of people around the world will come together to support charities on what is known as Giving Tuesday. This year, the Open Hearts Foundation has generously launched a matching challenge of up to $10,000 to our Mending Kids donors in support of our Hometown-Mend U.S. programs and continued contributions of PPE to local frontline heroes assisting the underserved.
As you come together to give thanks and consider your end of year donations, please gift what you can manage and know that your contributions will have double the impact! This matching opportunity will allow us to serve more local children patiently awaiting to have their self-esteem restored.
By making a gift or joining our monthly giving program, you will provide Mending Kids with the ability to deliver critically needed surgeries to children, consistently.
Thank you for keeping our kids in your thoughts and for making their lives matter.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving,
From all of us at Mending Kids
We are delighted to report that after a long hiatus, our small but mighty Ear-Nose & Throat surgical team was cleared to travel to the Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, Tanzania a few weeks ago. Thanks to a generous donation of equipment from Storz Medical and supplies from MAP International and Americares, they provided our medical team with long-awaited specialized hands-on airway training and operated on 25 kids in desperate need of care. A special shoutout to Jen's Cafe Bars who supplied bars for the medical team to sustain them during long surgical days.
While one team was at work mending kids in Tanzania, another from the Philippine Heart Center in Manila deployed to an underserved part of the country to provide training and cardiac procedures to underserved children whose families could not afford the care, let alone travel to Manila. 18 kids had their lives saved. This week the team is in Marawi City and Cagayan de Oro planning to mend 18 more hearts.
Last but not least, 2 children in our Individual surgical care program have received care in the U.S. and in India.
As Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday (November 30) approaches, We are so grateful to all of you who have stood by us.
Please keep our kids in your thoughts as you plan your end-of-year giving.
Their lives matter.
Grateful, we are mending kids.
We want to express our gratitude and appreciation to all of our fabulous supporters and sponsors who made Hike2Mend a huge success! You came from near and far to honor the journey so many parents take to gain access to medical care for their children, whether on foot or by navigating insurance eligibility. Thank you to our Mending Kids: Bridget (Nigeria), Erick (Honduras), and Taihtzy (Nicaragua) who were on hand to cheer you on, and Josue (pictured below) fresh from his recent procedure who walked to celebrate with us.
Check out some memories here.
The journey doesn't have to stop here. You can continue to hike at any time from wherever you live and raise awareness to help our kids get the critical surgical care they so desperately need.
Last Saturday 47 surgical and medical volunteers convened at the Memorial Outpatient Surgical Center Long Beach to provide free surgeries to 15 children in one day. After a year of playing whack-a-mole setting missions, rescheduling missions, riding the pandemic rollercoaster, remote work, travel moratoriums, treating individual cases, delivering PPE, hosting symposia, it was no small feat to finally have our 8th Hometown mission date that we could all work toward. And seeing the kids arrive, from all over Southern California (and one from Arizona,) talking to them about the challenges and obstacles they overcame for them to get here. Their families' resilience. Their faith. It all just reminded us and reinforced why we do our Hike 2 Mend every fall. And then, after a long day, waving goodbye to them in the end, knowing that we had restored their self-esteem, was something we could all sigh with relief for. We have between 3 and 4 million kids in this state that are underinsured or uninsured and we are a small nonprofit, so the idea that Mending Kids could someday be a go-to to and help connect a greater fraction of these kids in need through a referral network is a big dream. One that we will have to be strategic and resilient about, building it, managing it, one mission and one child at a time, patiently and resolutely. The big picture is about shining a light on the health disparity that surrounds us; visibly and invisibly and the social injustice that is inextricably enmeshed alongside it. Health frees up resources and energy to focus on learning and for the parent to focus on employment, affording them all the time to elevate their standards of living and reset them on a course to dream of better things. So we are left with two options: We can go to sleep at night beating ourselves up for not mending more kids (several kids were leftover for the next mission) or we can go to sleep at night with some measure of relief knowing that we may not have saved the world, but last Saturday, we helped mend 15 kids’ worlds and for now, that’s going to have to be okay. We will forge ahead, methodically and diligently, to the next Hometown Mission - Mend US and make it happen soon for our next wave of patients. They shouldn't have to wait so long to enjoy their childhoods.
Together, we are Mending Kids.
This past Saturday, our Mending Kids Family and the Memorial Care Outpatient Surgical Center came together to provide 15 patients ranging from 2 years to 21 years old with long awaited surgical care. 47 medical personnel including surgeons, doctors, and nurses gave up their Saturday to serve children in need. Some of whom came from as far away as Phoenix, AZ and Fresno, CA for their procedures.
None of this mending would have been possible were it not for your support and with enormous appreciation for Memorial Care Surgical Center, Open Hearts Foundation, The Charitable Foundation, Lakers Youth Foundation, Bear Givers, Rotary Club of Santa Monica, Rotary Club of South Pasadena, Thrivent, La Canada Juniors Women's League and to Panini Kabob and Grill who generously fed our heroes.
Let's continue to mend more hometown kids, and give them the life they truly deserve; free from bullying, with their self-esteem restored.
Together, we are Mending Kids.
Today and everyday we celebrate moms and guardians who work so hard to make sure that their children are healthy and receive the critical surgical care they need to flourish and grow.
We honor their resilience, their love, and their strength.
Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Mending Kids.
Thank you to our wonderful supporters and friends. Without you, none of what we do is possible. Thank you for making our first virtual gala a great one. Your generosity has already made a difference in children's lives.
We cannot thank you enough.
Providence has several definitions, for our purposes, we will refer to the third meaning in the Oxford dictionary: “the timely preparations for future eventualities.”
For months, her DRC cardiologist had lobbied and advocated for us to help her. Her family subsisted with little income and much prayer. We accepted her as a candidate. This is how we came to meet Juliana, a polite, yet precocious 5-year-old. After much preparation and countless hours of time-zone challenged coordination, inter-country negotiations, visas, and echocardiograms submitted, she had arrived blue-lipped, tired, and nauseated, having just traveled on her first airplane ride from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, where we were based for our cardiac mission. Neither she nor her mother spoke English or Swahili, so I stepped in as their interpreter and communicated with them in French, explaining things as they came up.
Our US-based cardiology team and our Italian based Vatican team worked with the local Tanzania doctors and ran a few more exams, a new set of echoes, and then scheduled her for surgery. She would be one of 15 surgeries scheduled for the week. Three hearts a day.
But all systems ground to a halt when her mother objected, wanting her daughter to have her heart fixed through interventional catheterization. We were taken aback. Why? Her hole was too large. It either had to be surgery or Juliana and her mother would have to return home to an uncertain future. We were stunned, months of timely preparations and coordination wasted, other kids denied an opportunity, we didn’t understand how she could get so close only to give it up. It turns out that Juliana and her family were Jehovah’s witnesses. She could not have open-heart surgery. She could not accept a blood transfusion, as this went against the tenets of their faith. Mending Kids as an organization believes that all children deserve a healthy future.
We do not screen, nor do we classify children by their religion. We operate on any child in need, provided the parent gives this permission. Would we have accepted her into the program, had we known this? Very good question, yet here she was, in front of us, a life that could be saved, yet a roadblock ground us to a halt.
Frustration was mounting. Another child in the schedule was moved up so that we would not lose precious surgical time during our five days there. The mom called her husband in the DRC to consult and pray with him, waiting for elders in their church to weigh in, time ticking away. Finally, the father agreed to have Julianna receive surgery, only she could not receive any blood. Open-heart surgery without a transfusion?
Providence stepped in when our perfusionist, the person who would monitor the heart-lung machine (designed to act as a mechanical heart and lung oxygenator to keeping all of her organs functioning while our surgeon mobilized her heart to fix it), declared that he could help her. He had experience with Jehovah’s witness patients. And, as it turns out, was one of a handful of perfusionists in Europe capable of doing so. And here he was with us on a cardiac mission in Tanzania! Our surgeon felt obligated to save her and with the support of our perfusionist, felt that she had a shot, so they moved to proceed. This would be no walk in the park.
When Juliana was placed in the operating room theater, the Tanzanian nurses surrounded her and laid their hands on her heart, and prayed in Swahili for her wellbeing. The Italian team stood back while they went ahead with their spiritual communique. Juliana wide-eyed and nervous looked at them, not understanding a word, while her mother was in the waiting room praying in french with her father on a long-distance call to Kinshasa.
The surgery was a success. Juliana received her lifesaving surgery and defied the odds to survive. Her days in the ICU were many as she was very slow to recover. Her mother sat at her bedside watching over her and fretting and complaining that she wasn’t making fast enough progress. Post-operative kids were cycling out of the ICU to the ward and yet Juliana remained. Her body was anemic and needed to produce the new red blood cells that she would need to regain her strength. We explained all this to the mom, that her daughter would have been out faster had she received a transfusion. Julianna did recover and traveled home and back to her family and community. Their prayers were answered.
The enormity that Juliana, a poor, young girl born in a country without a comprehensive cardiac program, found her way to a cardiologist, to a host country that would accept a foreign child, and with Mending Kids team at the right time on the perfect mission, made possible by the gifts of hundreds of strangers who would never meet her but somehow believed in her right to have a future ... If this wasn’t an example of providence, no matter what you believe, I don’t know what was.
Together, we are Mending Kids.
Thanks to your heartfelt support and generous donations from the Open Hearts Foundation and Brand Jonseck, we made our way to South Central, Los Angeles last week to deliver disposable and reusable masks to three amazing, heroic, and empowering community groups. We started with a stop at community lifeline South L.A. Cafe where each week 150 families receive needed groceries, then HOPICS an outreach program for the homeless and their families that offers an integrated care program, and finally Engage The Vision an organization committed to mentoring students in Watts. These are places where heroes work. Day in and day out they tirelessly, humbly and diligently serve, feed, advocate, and empower the youth of hardworking communities desperately holding onto the last threads of a frayed safety net, in addition to the anonymous-many swept into the current of homelessness.
The silver lining after months of providing PPE is a growing network of diverse groups have formed to amplify resources and support each other. Every mask donated has provided an opportunity for Mending Kids to spread some goodwill, keep people safe, and provide grassroots outreach for our Hometown Mission. The goal of this mission to deliver free surgical care to children whose family may not know that this opportunity is available to them.
One thing is certain, the day spent navigating unfamiliar zip codes was sobering. Health disparity is ripe and all around us if we are brave to open our eyes and see. Together, we have the power to make a difference in a child's life.