Heart Defects

Maria’s heart defect threatened to take her life. You helped save it.

We are committed to ensuring every dollar of your support makes a visible impact in the lives of vulnerable children. That’s why we ask our Honorees to provide annual performance reports, so we can show you, our supporters, how your funding has truly changed lives. This report comes from 2012 Honoree Dr. Nilas Young, who used our grant and recognition to improve access to urgently-needed medical care for children with heart defects.

Maria, girl who had a heart defectEvery 30 seconds, a baby is born with a life-threatening heart defect, the most common congenital birth defect in the world.1 If that baby happens to be born in a developed country, like the United States, where access to cardiac care is readily available, he or she has a very high chance of survival.

Unfortunately, however, millions of children are not so fortunate: 85% of the world’s children do not have access to cardiac care.2 In Russia, nearly 14,000 babies are born with a heart defect every year,3 but many do not have access to life-saving treatment.

One of those children was Maria. When she was little more than one year old, Maria’s parents found out that she had a heart tumor. Her doctors referred Maria to a treatment center that was over 150 miles away from her home; but once she arrived and was examined, her surgeon, Dr. Timofey Nevvazhay, realized that the open heart surgery required to remove the tumor would be too complex for this clinic.

How You Saved Maria’s Life

Maria recovering from open heart surgeryDr. Navvazhay contacted the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in the United States, where 2012 Honoree Dr. Nilas Young of Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance has strong ties. He hoped that the Mayo Clinic could provide the heart surgery that Maria so desperately needed.

Dr. Nevvazhay’s prayers were answered: Maria was accepted for pro bono surgery. Your support helped bring Dr. Nevvazhay, Maria and her mother to the Mayo Clinic, where Maria underwent a successful surgery and Dr. Nevvazhay observed so he could learn more about this highly complex operation.

Two months later, Maria was well enough to fly home. She is now seeing her cardiologist every few months to monitor her healing.

Impact of Your Funding

Happy girl recovered from heart surgeryMaria is just one example of how Dr. Young has used our grant funding and recognition to save lives and dramatically improve access to cardiac care for children who desperately need it. Heart to Heart used our grant to set up an annual fellowship that brings an aspiring pediatric cardiac surgeon to the United States for training and education at an American center of excellence. Over time, this will enable more children in Russia to have access to high-quality care, ultimately saving their lives and the lives of future generations.

Every day, Dr. Young and the rest of our Honorees use your funding to make a difference for children in desperate need. Donate today to help them continue to make a life-changing impact. worldofchildren.org/donate-now

1. Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance. heart-2-heart.org
2. Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance. heart-2-heart.org/our-work/global-need
3. Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance. heart-2-heart.org/our-work/our-work-in-russia
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