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Children's Heart Project - 013687

Celebrate 20 Years of Healed Hearts

This year, we’re celebrating two decades of healed hearts through the Children’s Heart Project. Since 1997, the project has arranged lifesaving operations for more than 1,100 children who live in countries where the required 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 them.

But the journey doesn’t end there. When children return home healed, they are a witness to their families and communities of God’s goodness. Numerous parents and children have also received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior while staying in North America and become ambassadors for Him.

In addition, children often attend Heart Camps, a weeklong camp in their home countries where they can meet others who have gone through the project and learn more about following the Lord. Many of these patients, who otherwise likely would not have reached adulthood, are now reaching others with the Gospel.

Below are before and after photos of 13 children who have had surgery through the Children’s Heart Project. Join our celebration by reading their stories.

There are eight children currently in North America awaiting or recovering from heart surgery. Read about each of these children here.

Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Children’s Heart Project.



A Timeline of Children’s Heart Project

CHP 1997 1997

After the end of the war in Bosnia, surgery was no longer available. As Samaritan’s Purse began to rebuild the hospital, we found out about a little boy with a heart defect who would die without surgery. On August 5, the Children’s Heart Project brought its first two patients to North America for surgery. Majo and Nasiha received surgery at MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, and the project began.

CHP 1999 1999

The Children’s Heart Project expanded into Kosovo. After the genocide in the country, there was no access to cardiovascular surgery. In November, Etnik became our first patient from a country other than Bosnia. At the time, there were no known Christian believers in the country. By the time the project closed in 2010, there were Christians in almost every village where the Children’s Heart Project had worked.

CHP 2000 2000

On July 4, the project expanded into Mongolia. After the fall of communism in the country, surgery was no longer available and the country was ripe for evangelism. In the 1990s, a church planting movement spread in Mongolia. By the time the Children’s Heart Project entered the country, an amazing revival was happening. Between 2006 and 2013, former Children’s Heart Project patients started four churches in regions that were intensely Shamanistic. Today, the project is ongoing in Mongolia.

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CHP 2003 2003

The Children’s Heart Project expanded into Uzbekistan, a Muslim-majority country, and Uganda, where no open-heart surgery was available. The project saw four patients from Uzbekistan and is still operating in Uganda.

CHP 2004 2004

Samaritan’s Purse had been working in Honduras since Hurricane Mitch destroyed parts of the country in 1998. The Children’s Heart Project made the decision to begin bringing children to North America for heart surgery because there was little medical care available in the country. The project continued to operate in Honduras until 2015.

CHP 2005 2005

The Children’s Heart Project partnered with a visiting team of cardiothoracic surgeons from For Hearts and Souls in Mongolia to do in-country surgeries for the first time. These surgeries provided an opportunity for children who were too sick to fly.

CHP 2007 2007

The Children’s Heart Project partnered with visiting teams from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to do surgeries in Kampala, Uganda. This team was the second to do surgeries in country.

CHP 2008 2008

The Children’s Heart Project partnered with a church in Nepal to begin doing surgeries in country. The church coordinates logistics to get children from remote Hindu areas in the Himalayas to the donor hospital. The church hosts the families, and more than 50 percent of the participants have been baptized in this ongoing outreach. Mayo Clinic doctors visit the hospital to teach.

CHP 2009 2009

The Children’s Heart Project began working in Bolivia. People in the La Paz area had no access to cardio care, and no other groups were working in the region. The project is ongoing in Bolivia.

CHP 2010 2010

A team of visiting cardiologists from For Hearts and Souls partnered with the Children’s Heart Project to do surgeries in northern Iraq. The team continued to do surgeries in the country until 2011.

CHP 2011 2011

Heart Camps began in Mongolia. The camps provided a place for former Children’s Heart Project patients to come together for a week of fellowship and discipleship. Some of the older children who were already Christians became mentors and counselors for the younger children. The camps will begin their sixth year this summer.

CHP 2012 2012

Heart Camps began in Uganda, following the model in Mongolia.

CHP 2013 2013

Heart Camps began in Honduras with five salvations during the first year.

CHP 2015 2015

Sheena Basemera, who had heart surgery through the Children’s Heart Project in 2004, began working with Samaritan’s Purse in Uganda as the Children’s Heart Project officer. She used her firsthand experience to guide families through the process. The next year, she moved to Samaritan’s Purse international headquarters in Boone, North Carolina, to become the project spokeswoman.

CHP 2016 2016

The Children’s Heart Project partnered with Health City Cayman Islands and Have a Heart Foundation to begin sending children to the Cayman Islands for heart surgery. In the first year of the partnership, 12 children received surgery in Grand Cayman.