Our dedicated Bolivian partner surgeons provide life-saving pacemaker and open heart surgeries for adults and children. Each patient also receives appropriate follow-up care overseen by our Bolivian offices. This program benefits greatly by the high value materials donated by our corporate supporters, which include many of the world’s top medical device companies, such as Medtronic Corporation and Biotronik. The majority of children’s open heart surgeries are generously financed through the Goff Gift Fund.
Dr. Carlos Brockmann was instrumental in the early establishment of the Solidarity Bridge Heart Program, and remains one of its key partners. Dr. Brockmann first introduced Solidarity Bridge to the Clínica Belga hospital in Cochabamba in the early 2000s, and performed our first pacemaker implants there soon after. Dr. Brockmann is currently our primary partner for open heart surgeries, performing on average one pediatric heart surgery per month through our program, primarily to correct congenital heart defects.
Yola, a wife and mother of two teenage daughters, was just thirty-two when she began to suffer high fevers, intense aches, shortness of breath, and dizziness. For five months, she was unable to perform her typical daily activities in her family’s rented, one-room home, high on a hill outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Yola was referred to a cardiologist who diagnosed her condition as mitral valve stenosis. Despite a loan from her father-in-law, the family was unable to pay for the heart surgery she desperately needed. Her husband, a street vendor, does not have a secure monthly income. The family can barely afford even their absolute necessities such as food and rent, while also striving to keep their daughters in school.
As much as Yola suffered, she couldn’t bear to see the pain it brought her husband and daughters, who were reduced to tears by the situation. “I don’t know what to do,” bemoaned her husband as he explained that his wife was often unable to get out of bed. “When she sees my despair because I can’t get the money, she tells me to just forget about it, that she just won’t get the surgery. What will we do if she dies? Please, I am asking you to help us.”
Solidarity Bridge was able to answer Yola’s family’s pleas through our Heart Surgery Program and the healing hands of our Bolivian partner, Dr. Carlos Brockmann, who performed Yola’s mitral valve replacement at Clinica Belga in Cochabamba. Thanks also to the Hermitage Charitable Trust for providing the funds to make the surgery possible. Yola has now regained her health and returned home to the joyful embrace of her husband and daughters.
100 Bolivian children have now received open heart surgery through Solidarity Bridge. The operations were performed by our Bolivian partner surgeons, Dr. Carlos Brockmann and Dr. Arturo Barrientos. The children had life-threatening congenital heart conditions or severe heart damage from rheumatic fever, and their families were unable to pay for the surgery needed to save their children’s lives. Their operations were financed by the generosity of Isaac and Renee Goff, owners of our fair trade partner, Dharma Trading Company. The children’s stories and photos can be seen here.