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Success! Santiago from Bolivia raised $1,500 to fund life-changing cardiac surgery so he can grow to be a healthy and strong superhero.

Santiago
100%
  • $1,500 raised, $0 to go
$1,500
raised
$0
to go
Fully funded
Santiago's treatment was fully funded on December 27, 2022.

Photo of Santiago post-operation

January 7, 2023

Santiago underwent a life-changing cardiac surgery so that he can grow to be a healthy and strong superhero.

Santiago’s cardiac surgery was successful. He should be able to live a healthy and active life with no further risk from his heart condition.

His mother was full of gratitude for this new chapter in their lives and shared: “I am so happy to already see my son with much more energy and health than he had before the surgery!”

Santiago's cardiac surgery was successful. He should be able to live a healthy and active life with no further risk from his heart condition...

Read more
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 ...

Read more

Santiago's Timeline

  • July 25, 2022
    PROFILE SUBMITTED

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

  • July 26, 2022
    TREATMENT OCCURRED

    Santiago received 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.

  • December 27, 2022
    FULLY FUNDED

    Santiago's treatment was fully funded.

  • January 7, 2023
    TREATMENT UPDATE

    Santiago's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 34 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.

Foster

Foster is a 70-year-old father of nine, from Makwenda Village in Malawi. He lives with his wife and grandchildren. To support his family, he solely depends on farming where he grows maize, groundnuts, and soya beans. Foster is a village headman and he is a member of the Church of African Presbytery. Foster was well until 2020 when he noticed a swelling on the right side of his groin. The swelling was very painful and made passing stool and urine very difficult. The swelling would disappear and reappear after a while, especially when it is cold, and when he coughs or strains himself. Foster decided to seek medical help at a health center in his area where he was referred to Nkhoma Hospital, but at the time surgeries were limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was told to come back another time. As the condition persisted, Foster went to seek medical help at Dedza District Hospital where he has been visiting up to now and had been given pain medication. Last week, Foster visited Nkhoma Hospital once again, and he presented that the swelling has now been appearing on both sides. After assessment in the surgical clinic, Foster was diagnosed with Bilateral Inguinal Hernia. The doctor advised that he needs to undergo Hernia Repair surgical procedure and this was scheduled for October 5th. This hernia condition has impacted Foster’s life negatively. Since the condition surfaced, he experiences pain that hinders him from doing his daily activities and he fails to work on his farm. Additionally, he cannot walk a long distance or ride his bike as the swelling appears when he strains himself. Treatment will be a welcome development in Foster’s life. He will be able to work on his farm and continue taking care of his family as he is the sole breadwinner. In addition to that, treatment will prevent Foster from developing complications that a hernia can cause, such as enlargement, incarceration, small bowel obstruction, and strangulation of the hernia, which can be fatal. Foster shared that he does not have enough money to pay for his surgery and other expenses so the medical team referred him to Watsi and our medical partner African Mission healthcare. He has been able to contribute $15 to his care and our medical partner is requesting $500 to cover the cost of Foster's surgery. Foster says, “I was afraid that this condition will start affecting my duties as a village headman, I am thankful that there is hope for me through my donors.”

56% funded

56%funded
$280raised
$220to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.