Children from Mongolia receive life-saving surgery through Children’s Heart Project
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects, affecting approximately one in 100 newborns, and are the number one cause of birth defect-related deaths worldwide.
Children with congenital heart defects suffer from fatigue, difficulty eating, poor weight gain, and difficulty breathing. This can keep them from doing well in school, or, in some cases, from attending school at all. Many children with heart defects are not expected to live into adulthood.
Children’s Heart Project, a program of Samaritan’s Purse, arranges life-saving heart surgeries for children who don’t have the medical expertise or necessary equipment available to them in their home countries. We provide airfare for the children, their guardians, and translators and arrange for an evangelical Christian family to host the group during their stay.
Since 1997, Samaritan’s Purse has helped more than 1,000 children receive the life-saving surgery they need. Below, meet four kids, all of whom were originally scheduled to have their surgeries in Minnesota this week.
Zorigoo is a happy-go-lucky 5-year-old. His family lives about four hours from Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar. When Zorigoo was a baby, he traveled to Minnesota for heart surgery, but a recent evaluation showed that he needed a second repair. He and his mom are back in Minnesota now as recovers from his surgery. Zorigoo seemed unfazed by his operation and his weak heart—he spent his first week in the U.S. running, sledding, and playing piano.
“I’m so thankful to Samaritan’s Purse for what they have done to my child,” said his mother, Oyunaa. “Thank you is too small a word for me. I cannot express in words how I’m thankful to you. You’re giving life to my child, and because he has life, he can do anything in his future—fulfill his dream, fulfill his mission.”
Totono is a quiet toddler with a heartwarming smile. His heart defect is obvious from his blue lips and blue fingernails. He lives with his grandparents in eastern Mongolia, far from the pollution found in Ulaanbaatar. His mother is a student in the capital city, but because of his heart condition, it’s better for him to live in the countryside with fresh, clean air. He had surgery on February 11 and is recovering in the host home.
“I was really shocked for a period of time, but as soon as I heard the good news that we were accepted to an American hospital, then I just felt at peace,” said Totono’s grandmother, Otgo. “I knew that my grandson will be in very good hands. From the news until now, I feel lots of confidence that my grandchild will be healed completely.”
Twenty-month-old Dolgion longs to play with Zorigoo, but his heart can’t quite keep up yet. Before his surgery, he toddled around on his stout legs, curiously checking out his new surroundings, but he tired easily and needed to nap often.
Dolgion doesn’t like to be separated from his mom, Tuya, for long, so she will be by his side during his recovery. Dolgion’s heart defect didn’t seem to affect his appetite—he has kept his host mom busy preparing meat and noodle soup. His surgery was February 12. All went well, and he’s recovering in the host home.
“All I want for my son is, of course, after the surgery, he will have a long-living life,” Tuya said. “We really want him to personally know and find out how much he’s blessed and know the love and mercy he received.”
Baby Haja celebrated her first birthday on February 10, three days before her scheduled surgery. Haja has a twin back home in Mongolia, and the differences between the two make Haja’s heart defect all the more obvious. According to Oyuka, Haja’s mom, the twin is healthier, chubbier, and bigger. She learned how to crawl more quickly and is already walking. Little Haja is still working on standing, and she often has to stop to catch her breath. Overall, she’s slower and smaller than her sister.
“I cried a lot, and I felt like I’m flying,” Oyuka said, describing when she first found out Haja would come to the States for surgery. “I’m really excited that there is the mercy of God. I’m very thankful still that she had a chance to be blessed by God and have the surgery here.”
On February 12, Haja ran a temperature, so her operation had to be rescheduled for February 19.
UPDATE: Haja successfully came through surgery and is doing well.
Please pray with us for these children, their mothers and grandmother, and their families back home. We pray that they will make a full recovery and return home to live full lives. Most important, we pray that they and their families find a relationship with Jesus Christ during their time in the U.S. or when they return to Mongolia.