A Mongolian girl becomes the 1,000th child to receive surgery though Children’s Heart Project. Children from more than a dozen countries have received the life-saving surgery they needed.
On March 5, Nomin had surgery to repair the hole in her heart. The Mongolian girl became the 1,000th child to receive life-saving surgery from Children’s Heart Project.Help Provide Heart Surgery For A ChildThe Samaritan’s Purse program works with top-quality hospitals to provide surgery for children who live in countries where the medical expertise and equipment are not available. We provide airfare for the children, a parent, and a translator and locate evangelical Christian churches and families willing to host the groups.
The host family provides emotional and spiritual support and guidance as they become witnesses of Christ’s love.
God has blessed the program tremendously since its inception 17 years ago.
Kosovo and Bosnia
In 1997, Samaritan’s Purse was helping to repair a bombed-out hospital in Bosnia when we discovered children with deadly heart defects that doctors in the war-torn country could not treat.
Majo was a 10-year-old boy who survived the civil war, but he wouldn’t have lived much longer without surgery. Doctors in Bosnia could not do such a delicate operation, so they asked Samaritan’s Purse for help. On August 5, 1997, we brought Majo and a 12-year-old girl named Nasiha to South Carolina for surgery. That was the beginning of Children’s Heart Project, which cared for 83 children from Bosnia over the next seven years.
Like Bosnia, Kosovo was a victim of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Civil war devastated the medical system, and doctors who diagnosed heart defects were unable to offer surgery.
Five months after the end of the war in 1999, Samaritan’s Purse brought toddlers Etnik and Rrahim to the Minnesota, the first of 164 patients from Kosovo over the next 11 years. There were few evangelical churches in Kosovo before the war, but a decade later there were Christians in almost every village where the Children’s Heart Project had worked.
The Children’s Heart Project has brought more children from Mongolia than any other country. The first patient was a 9-month-old girl named Poochay who had surgery in 2000 in Michigan. Our ministry in Mongolia has been part of a revival that has spread since the end of Soviet domination in 1990. In the last seven years, our heart patients and their families have started four churches in regions that had been dominated by shamanism.
In 2003, the Children’s Heart Project expanded into Uganda, bringing a 5-year-old boy named Hassan and a 3-year-old girl named Deborah to Washington, D.C., for surgery. We have provided critical medical care for more than 200 children from Uganda.
Latin AmericaSamaritan’s Purse has been working in Honduras since Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998. A Honduran girl named Geiby was our first heart patient from Latin America and had surgery in 2004 in North Carolina.
In 2009, we also began accepting patients from Bolivia, where fewer than 10 percent of children born with heart defects get the surgery they need.
Going the Distance
Some young heart patients are too weak to make long overseas flights. In 2005, the Children’s Heart Project began providing surgery in country, starting in Mongolia in partnership with a visiting team. The team later did surgeries in the Kurdish region of Iraq. A different team decided to offer the same opportunity in Kampala, Uganda.
In 2008, the Children’s Heart Project began a partnership with a church in Nepal to provide pediatric heart surgery for children from remote areas in the Himalayas. Families in the church host the children during surgery and recovery as they show them the compassion of Jesus Christ. More than half of the patients have trusted Jesus as Savior and have been baptized.
Heart CampIn 2011, Heart Camps began in Mongolia, adding a new dimension to the ministry. These camps provide a place for heart patients to come together for a week of fellowship and discipleship and share their unique testimonies. Older youth who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior become mentors and counselors for younger children. Activities include The Greatest Journey, a series of Bible lessons originally developed by Samaritan’s Purse for children who receive shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child. The Heart Camps have proven so popular that they were expanded into Uganda in 2012 and Honduras in 2013.
Where We Are Now
Seventeen years since the first surgery, we praise God for the opportunity to touch the lives of 1,000 children in 15 countries.
There are many ways you can become involved with Children’s Heart Project. If you are a medical professional or know hospital administrators, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, or pediatric cardiologists, please contact us.
You can also help by praying for children who are currently in North America waiting for or recovering from surgery or by fundraising or donating.
For more information, visit the Children’s Heart Project page.