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Santiago is a superhero-loving four-year-old from Bolivia who needs $1,500 to fund life-changing cardiac surgery so he can grow to be a healthy and strong superhero.

Santiago
64%
  • $965 raised, $535 to go
$965
raised
$535
to go
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July 25, 2022

Santiago is a charming four-year-old boy from a mining community in the mountains of central Bolivia. His parents both work in office roles at a local mining company. Santiago enjoys watching cartoons and making new friends. He also loves to dress up as his favorite superheroes like Spiderman, who he aspires to be when he grows up!

Santiago was born with a ventricular septal defect, a cardiac condition in which a hole exists between the two lower chambers of the heart. Blood leaks through this hole without first passing through the lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving him weak and short of breath.

Fortunately, Santiago is scheduled to undergo heart surgery on July 26th with the support of our long-standing medical partner Haiti Cardiac Alliance, which is now growing and expanding into Bolivia. Surgeons will close the hole with a patch, allowing blood to properly flow through his body and improving his quality of life.

Another organization, Gift of Life International, is contributing $2,500 to pay for a portion of Santiago’s procedure costs. Our medical partner is requesting $1,500 to cover the remaining costs, which cover surgical expenses, cardiac exams, medications, and travel fees so Santiago and his family can travel to receive his life-changing cardiac procedure in La Paz.

Santiago shares, “I hope that after my surgery, I will grow up to be Spiderman!”

Santiago is a charming four-year-old boy from a mining community in the mountains of central Bolivia. His parents both work in office roles ...

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Santiago's Timeline

  • July 25, 2022
    PROFILE SUBMITTED

    Santiago was submitted by Owen Robinson, Executive Director at Haiti Cardiac Alliance.

  • July 26, 2022
    TREATMENT SCHEDULED

    Santiago was scheduled to receive treatment at Hospital del Niño Dr. Ovidio Aliaga Uría in Bolivia. Medical partners often provide care to patients accepted by Watsi before those patients are fully funded, operating under the guarantee that the cost of care will be paid for by donors.

  • July 26, 2022
    PROFILE PUBLISHED

    Santiago's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • TODAY
    AWAITING FUNDING

    Santiago is currently raising funds for his treatment.

  • TBD
    AWAITING UPDATE

    Awaiting Santiago's treatment update from Haiti Cardiac Alliance.

Funded by 24 donors

Funded by 24 donors

Treatment
Congenital Cardiac Surgery
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $4,000 for Santiago's treatment
Subsidies fund $2,500 and Watsi raises the remaining $1,500
Hospital Fees
$3,000
Medical Staff
$300
Medication
$100
Supplies
$0
Travel
$600
  • Symptoms
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Cultural or regional significance

​What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?

When a hole exists in the heart, a physician can hear a buzzing noise, or murmur, in the child's chest as blood passes through the hole at high velocity. Parents might notice that their child cannot keep up with other children in daily activities. In severe cases, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream can lead to dramatic symptoms, such as blue lips and tongue, clubbed fingers and toes, and heart failure.

​What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?

Most congenital cardiac conditions will eventually lead to death without surgery, often within a period of months or years depending on severity. In the meantime, patients experience heart failure as their hearts struggle to compensate for the presence of leaks or other defects. In most conditions, the heart becomes fatigued, limiting the child's ability to be active, go to school, and participate in daily life.

What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?

Pediatric open-heart surgery has only been made available in Bolivia in recent years. Most families are unfamiliar with the concept of open-heart surgery and are at first quite reluctant to allow their child to undergo this care. Indigenous belief systems in Bolivia can at times contribute to a family's reluctance to proceed with surgery, and must be addressed through thoughtful conversation and social accompaniment of each family.

  • Process
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Risks and side-effects
  • Accessibility
  • Alternatives

What does the treatment process look like?

The child's cardiac symptoms are usually first detected by their local pediatrician, who then refers the child to the nearest pediatric cardiologist for exam and diagnosis. Once diagnosed, HCA works with the local cardiologist and the surgical team in La Paz to ensure that the child is enrolled on the waiting list for surgery at the hospital, and works directly with the family to facilitate their transportation to La Paz, often from very long distances, and to support them socially and logistically after arrival. The child then undergoes surgery and recovers for about a week in La Paz before returning home to their community. HCA then coordinates with the child's pediatric cardiologist to ensure high-quality, long-term follow-up care, and provides financial support for medications and doctor visits as needed.

What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?

These treatments are almost always life-saving in nature as the cardiac conditions are not survivable over the long-term without surgery. Within weeks after surgery, the patient should already notice a difference in energy level. Many patients also undergo a growth spurt and/or gain significant weight after a surgery.

What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?

The risk of death during or shortly after an open-heart surgical procedure is about 3%. Other risks, though rare, include stroke and post-operative infection. In a small percentage of cases, the material used to patch the hole will separate from the edges of the hole, and a follow-up surgery is necessary to re-patch the defect.

How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?

For families without private-sector insurance, the cardiac surgery program in La Paz is the only year-round surgical program in Bolivia capable of treating children who need open-heart surgery. Children come to this program from throughout Bolivia; many families live in extremely remote and mountainous areas that can require several days of overland travel to reach La Paz. For patients who live more than 8-10 hours away by road, HCA arranges for families to come by plane from the nearest commercial airport to their home.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

In general, patients are treated with medications to prevent heart failure until they are able to obtain their surgeries. Patients may also seek care from traditional healers, who may use liquids and powders derived from local plants and roots.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.

Safia

Safia is a bright student - she is an orphan who is still mourning the loss of her mother who passed on in February 2022. Her father died a few years ago, and she lives with her relatives in Moyale. She has not been able to attend her classes since she started feeling unwell. She is the last born in a family of five children. She does not have medical coverage and is unable to raise the required amount for the surgery. She first experienced a small itch on her leg at the beginning of April 2022. She later experienced swelling in that area, and she did not have any feeling on the infected leg. Over time, the situation worsened and developed pus. She now has a chronic wound on her left leg that requires debridement and skin grafting. Safia was referred to our medical partner's care center Kijabe Hospital by friends after her condition did not improve. She visited the facility and underwent a sequestrectomy on the 8th of September and now needs a debridement and skin graft procedure. Fortunately, our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is helping Safia receive treatment. On September 14th, surgeons will perform a debridement and skin graft procedure so she can walk without straining and be able to attend school and continue with her studies. Now, Safia needs help to fund this $1,185 procedure. Safia's aunt says, “She has been away from school for almost five months now. Her condition keeps getting worse that she is unable to walk. We even have to carry her to the bathroom. She needs this surgery, or she will lose her leg.“

46% funded

46%funded
$547raised
$638to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.