Two Kinds of Heart Surgery

December 10, 2013 • United States

When two Mongolian mothers bring their young sons to the United States for life-saving heart surgery, they are amazed by the overwhelming love of Jesus and accept Him as savior

She couldn’t believe what the man had just asked her to do.

Oche had brought her young son, Tuugguu, to see a famous “religious wise man” near their home in Mongolia in hopes that he could fix the child’s heart defect. But instead of healing, she was instructed to bring the shaman “many, many sheep hearts” in order for him to cure Tuugguu.

She walked away, discouraged and distraught.

Help Provide Heart Surgery For A Child“The Mongolian people are very confused religious-wise,” said Gany Galsandorj, a translator working with Samaritan’s Purse in Mongolia. “It’s a bit of Buddhism mixed with Hindu mixed with shamanism, so people go to these ‘wise men’ for help.”

Oche disregarded the shaman’s instruction as a ridiculous notion and decided to continue searching for other options for her 1-and-a-half-year-old son—a mission that proved difficult in Mongolia where the capacity to repair heart defects, especially in children, is rare.

Tuugguu was diagnosed with a heart defect when he was less than a month old. He was so weak that he usually had to be carried around in his mother’s arms and his skin often displayed a bluish tint to it.

“When I first heard that my son heart had a heart defect, I cried my eyes out,” Oche said. “My son is my happiness. He is very valuable to me and my whole family.”

Despair began to turn into hope when Tuugguu was accepted into the Children’s Heart Project, the Samaritan’s Purse program that helps children get the life-saving surgery they need in North America.

Munkhbayar enjoys playing outside now that the four issues with his heart have been repaired. Since coming to the U.S. for surgery, he has grown nearly two inches.

Munkhbayar enjoys playing outside now that the four issues with his heart have been repaired. Since coming to the U.S. for surgery, he has grown nearly two inches.

Children’s Heart Project arranges life-saving operations for children who live in countries where the required medical expertise and equipment are not available. The children, a parent, and a translator, stay with Christian host families.

Oche and her son boarded a plane with another mother, Khosbayar, and her 2-year-old son Munkhbayar, who also suffered from a heart defect, and flew to the opposite side of the world so they could receive treatment in Greenville, N.C.

At first they were nervous when the arrived in America with Gany, the translator who flew with them from Mongolia. But when they met their host family, Marty and Ainslie Guion, their nerves were quickly put at ease.

Ainslie offered the women some Mongolian milk tea she had made from scratch after researching recipes online. The mothers were amazed how similar it was to what they were used to, and the gesture gave them a little taste of home.

“Even though we don’t speak the same language, we really do,” Ainslie said. “Because we’re both mothers— [It’s] the love of our children and our families and the hopes that we have for them.”

Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog

Ainslie Guion prays with Khosbayar and Oche for the recovery of their children. Through the Children’s Heart Project, all three families have grown very close together and share in a time of prayer and devotion everyday.

While Ainslie and her family would have to spend the next seven weeks speaking through a translator as they endured the children’s operations and recoveries together, it wasn’t difficult to build a bond that would transcend distance and cultural boundaries.

“It’s like this dance we do together now,” said Ainslie, who admits to not being entirely sure what she was getting herself into when she volunteered. “Of course when you first learn a dance, it’s awkward and then later you can dance around the floor together and laugh and have fun. I think that’s a ministry… It’s the daily walk with each other. They’ve ministered to me and my family as much as we’ve ministered to them.”

As a host family, the Guions provided a place to stay, meals, and transportation to and from the doctor appointments. Their church, Tabernacle Baptist, pitched in as well, helping to meet many of the families’ needs.

Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog

Tabernacle Baptist Church helped support the host family and Mongolian visitors during the heart surgery and recovery process by getting the whole congregation involved with food, transportation, and more in Jesus’ name.

In addition to providing for their physical needs, Samaritan’s Purse makes it a priority to share the Gospel with the mothers of the Children’s Heart Project patients. Throughout the process, the host family, translator, church members, and even Christian doctors pray with the family during the stressful time of heart surgery and recovery.

Gany also hosted daily Bible studies for the mothers, and had an opportunity to present a film about Jesus.

When Gany showed the film to the mother’s in their own language, they had many questions about Jesus and His life, including why He would still love the people who killed Him. Gany explained about sin and salvation, and both mothers accepted Christ.

“It’s amazing to see God use this kind of sickness to reach these kinds of families,” Gany said. “It was their first time hearing about Jesus and the Gospel. Now even the dads are so open. The grandparents are open.”

Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog

Young Tuugguu enjoys holding hands during prayer at meal times with the host family every day.

Both mothers said they are excited to take back to Mongolia what they learned about Jesus and how they’ve seen God work in the lives of their sons during the heart surgery and recovery process. When the families gather around the table each night before meals, even young Tuugguu and Munkhbayar hold hands with the adults as they all pray—first in English led by Marty, and then in Mongolian translated by Gany—and the toddlers get excited upon hearing the word “Amen!”

“I made that decision [to believe in Jesus] because I saw the power of prayer,” Oche said. “Before my son received his surgery, I prayed to Jesus that the surgery to go successful. And after my son had his surgery, I also prayed over him every night to recover quickly. I see that my prayers get answers from God, so I made the decision.”

When Ainslie and Marty were told the news about the mothers’ salvation, they both embraced the women and called them their sisters.

“Its wonderful to think of it that way,” Ainslie said. “They’re no longer guests in our home. They are sisters in Christ.”

Thanksgiving happened to occur during the boys’ recovery and the Guions were happy to include their new Mongolian family members at their holiday table with their own grown children who returned home.

Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog

Tuuguu and Munkhbayar play together like brothers as they recover from both their surgeries. Before their heart defects were repaired, they seldom played or had any energy. Now they’re running and laughing like healthy toddlers.

The boys love playing at the Guions’ home, and Ainslie said their recovery was impressively noticeable. Munkhbayar has been eating non-stop, his new appetite revved up by a renewed heart, even causing him to grow up a couple inches in the seven weeks he’s been in the States. Tuugguu no longer needs to be carried around constantly. In fact, he spends most of his days running, giggling, and clapping like a healthy toddler should.

Both mothers expressed how they could hardly wait to show what the Lord had done in their children back home in Mongolia.

“The surgery, of course, is long term for the boys’ lives, but the heart change for the mom— that’s an eternal heart change,” Marty said. “They can take that back and become a light in their communities back in Mongolia.”

For Oche, this experience was life changing in more ways than one.

“Seeing Samaritan’s Purse office staff in Mongolia and coming here and meeting Christian doctors and nurses at the hospital and this host family, I was surprised how they could be so nice to us,” she said. “How they can be so kind to us, loving to us? After I watched Jesus film, I understood that was the reason, and I understood that’s why these people are that way.”

More children are in need of life-saving heart surgeries all over the world. The Children’s Heart Project strives to provide the best medical care possible while also opening doors for the Gospel to otherwise unreached people.