One per cent (1%) of the world's population is born with heart disease, and only about a third are actually diagnosed. But to the parents of these unfortunate children the evidence is undeniable. Instead of enjoying his "terrible twos" the child exhausts easily, cries endlessly in pain and frustration at his inability to play with other children and frightens his parents with the specter of death.

In most parts of the U.S. and other developed nations, the family's pediatrician sends such a child to a major medical center, where the congenital defect is repaired, and the youngster matures into a healthy adult, leaving Mom and Dad with normal parental concerns like viruses, report cards and driving.

Imagine the anguish of parents in underdeveloped or remote regions who have no one to work this miracle on their suffering child. Imagine having no alternative to watching your child waste away and die. Often a simple procedure performed by skilled surgeons could change this course and render a happy ending, but no such help exists in their homelands.

The International Children's Heart Foundation strives to put a dent in this unfortunate situation by providing direct care to as many children as possible, sending medications, surgical supplies and diagnostic equipment to medical facilities around the world and helping train surgeons from developing nations in this special field, so that they ultimately can provide care for their own people.

This is our mission, one which we consider very important, one to which we are passionately committed and one which needs your support to be realized.

How much does it cost to do heart surgery on a child?

It depends. Some of the factors that determine the cost are the country we are going to, hotel charges, airline fares, the amount of medical supplies and equipment that has been donated, size of the medical team going, and where they are traveling from. As an example, going to Nicaragua usually costs around $18,000, assuming the medical supplies are donated, which they often are. During a two week trip the medical team typically operates on between 15 - 20 children. The average cost/surgery is between $900 - $1,125, when you look at our expenses only. Other countries, like China, are significantly more expensive.

How often are surgical trips made?

Over the years that number has increased significantly. This year, we have gone on trips every month and that will continue through the end of this year. The team in Nicaragua was composed of volunteers from five different countries. This was a giant step forward for us as we continue to grow.

Are the medical volunteers compensated?

The medical volunteers are just that, volunteers. Usually they will schedule trips with us on their vacations and in some cases the medical institutions they are affiliated with allow them to take time off for humanitarian efforts.

How often do you receive requests for pediatric surgery?

Every day. In the last 2 days I have received 3 emails requesting our services. The foundation also receives letters and faxes directed to Dr. Novick from parents and relatives of children with heart disease. These requests arrive every week from all over the world.

How many medical volunteers are involved with the Foundation's efforts?

As of August, we had almost 300 medical professionals who are registered and certified to travel and teach with our medical staff.

What is the biggest need of the Foundation?

Simply stated, it is money. Although we work diligently to get as many things as possible donated, there are still staff salaries to be paid and there are always expenses related to trips, for instance the shipping of medical supplies. Our only limitation in the number of children's lives we can save is the ability to fund more trips.

The International Children's Heart Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization based in Memphis, Tennessee. We are dedicated to helping children with congenital or acquired heart disease in developing countries throughout the world. We serve all children without respect to their race, religion or sex. Our primary goal is to make ourselves obsolete in the countries that we serve. To this end, we strive to educate the health care professionals in the countries we travel and bring them to the United States for advanced study so that they may better serve their own children.
Copyright 2004, International Children's Heart Foundation.   We appreciate your interest and support.  Questions, inquiries, or comments regarding  and/or are always welcome.  You may save the life of a child by clicking here.  The knowledge that you made such a significant difference in the life of a child, a family, and a community is priceless.