The Children's Heart Project brought a young girl from Mongolia to North America for a life-saving operation, and her mother received Christ
Munkhbayar and Nergui’s beautiful baby daughter was born in January 2014. They took her home to their traditional Mongolian ger, about 40 miles outside the city. She seemed perfect to them, but when they took her in for her 3-month checkup, the doctor said Suvdaa wasn’t gaining enough weight. She suggested they take her to a hospital in the city. There, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.
The doctors at the hospital gave Munkhbayar and Nergui some medicine and told them that it would resolve Suvdaa’s problem. After one month, they thought they saw some improvements. But after the second month, it seemed that Suvdaa was still small. After four months, the couple traveled back into the city to look for other options. This time, the doctor they saw told them that the condition required surgery.
“If we collect all our money, we can’t pay for surgery cost,” Munkhbayar said. “It is too expensive for us.”
So the doctor told the family about the Children’s Heart Project, which brings children with congenital heart defects from developing countries to North America to receive life-saving heart surgery. The family met the staff, and Suvdaa had weekly screenings at the hospital until the Children’s Heart Project accepted her for surgery.
“I was very happy and excited,” Nergui said.
In October 2015, Nergui and Suvdaa flew with an interpreter to North Carolina. Shortly afterward, Nergui had to turn her daughter over to the nurses. She said it was difficult, and she cried.
Back home in Mongolia, Munkhbayar worried about his daughter. He tends cows, and Suvdaa usually spends every day with him while Nergui is at work. To take his mind off of what was happening, he put most of his time and energy into his farm.
Given New Life
When Suvdaa emerged from surgery, she looked the same. But the change her little body experienced inside became quickly apparent. After she left the hospital, she took her first steps. Before she returned home, she was running. Nergui was thrilled to see how quickly Suvdaa was developing with a healed heart.
“It was one of the biggest joys that my child had opportunities to have free open-heart surgery in America,” she said. “Surgery gave longer life to my child. It was amazing.”
While in North Carolina, Nergui watched the Jesus film. The evangelistic movie, combined with the Bible studies she had with the interpreter, drew her heart to Christ. After seeing the film, she said she believed that He was her Savior and the reason her daughter was alive. She was baptized before returning home.
Suvdaa returned home healthy, and life became easier for Munkhbayar and Nergui because they no longer worry about their daughter’s heart condition. She spends her days playing with her 5-year-old neighbor, which she wasn’t able to do before.
But finding a Christian community in Mongolia has been hard for Nergui. The only Christian she knows is her sister-in-law. She is illiterate so she can’t continue learning on her own by reading the Bible, and there is no church in her area. Munkhbayar hasn’t accepted the Gospel yet, but he is open to learning more. The Children’s Heart Project staff members do follow-up visits with Suvdaa and always share with Munkhbayar. He said that when he’s in the city, he visits the church there. Samaritan’s Purse staff members in Mongolia pray that Nergui will continue growing in her faith despite the challenges she faces.
Recently, Suvdaa had her first haircut. In Mongolian culture, the first haircut symbolizes the transition from babyhood to childhood, so the family invited more than 100 people to celebrate, including the Children’s Heart Project staff members. This haircutting ceremony was particularly special because, before Suvdaa’s surgery, her parents didn’t know if Suvdaa would survive until childhood.
“We are so happy for Suvdaa’s life,” Munkhbayar said.