Later today I'll join 3 other members of our Pacemaker team and we'll launch our week long mission effort in Tarija, Bolivia. Solidarity Bridge sent an inaugural team to this same location last year with the aim of establishing a year-round program making expensive pacemaker surgeries available to Bolivians most in need. This was quite an undertaking with many moving people and parts! And now, we'll return to evaluate the effectiveness of our program structure, plan ahead for the coming year, and further teach/equip our Bolivian pacemaker partners in Tarija.
Why pacemakers...why Tarija? Bolivia has the highest recorded rate of Chagas, a parasitic disease which enlarges the heart over time. Individuals with Chagas experience fatigue and shortness of breath that commonly leads them to premature death. The poorest of the poor are most susceptible to Chagas as they often live in housing with adobe materials where the bug carrying the parasite also resides. Tarija has a particularly high incidence of Chagas so we're eager to continue growing our program there.
I'm W-O-W-ed when I consider that Solidarity Bridge has made over 1,000 pacemaker implants available throughout Bolvia since 1999, and we've recently expanded to Paraguay. None of this would be possible without the support of the Medtronic Corporation, our many individual and organizational donors, and the great spirit of volunteerism among our pacemaker professionals.
I’m also WOWed by the fact that I’ll miss my plane if I don’t head for the airport soon. So I’ll sign off now and update you in a few days with more details about our team and our work. Meanwhile, if you’d like to meet one of our Tarija pacemaker patients, just click on our documentary “Heart to Heart” on the right side of this blog. To learn more about Solidarity Bridge visit www.solidaritybridge.org
Back in touch soon!