50% of children born with heart defects will need heart surgery at sometime in their life. Of those 50%, 35% need surgery in the first month in order to survive.
One percent of the world’s population is born with heart disease, making it the most common birth defect.
Many congenital heart defects can be repaired with just one surgical intervention, while others require staged repairs. Fortunately for children with heart disease in the United States and other developed countries, there are hundreds of medical centers with trained specialists to care for them.
However, for children in developing nations, the outlook isn’t as bright.
In these countries, congenital heart defects often go undiagnosed until the child begins turning blue and having difficulty eating. This is when the nightmare begins for the child and his or her parents. Local doctors will tell them there is no one who can help in their country and advise them to send their child to the United Kingdom, the United States or another developed country with trained doctors. Unfortunately, such a trip often costs more money than many of these parents will see in their lifetimes.
Imagine the anguish of parents in underdeveloped or remote regions who have no one to work a miracle on their suffering child. Imagine having no alternative to watching your child waste away and die.
Although a simple procedure performed by skilled surgeons could save hundreds of children, the challenge is to get those skilled doctors to those children in time to save them.
The International Children’s Heart Foundation strives to correct this unfortunate situation with a threefold approach:
• Providing direct care to as many children as possible in the short term
• Sending medications, surgical supplies and diagnostic equipment to medical facilities in developing countries
• Training surgeons and medical staff so they ultimately can provide care for their own people
The passion for our work is demonstrated through the commitment of the ICHF staff and our volunteer medical teams. These dedicated professionals execute dozens of medical missions each year and perform surgeries on approximately 20 children per two- to three-week trip.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions section for additional information.