12th August 2015


We recently treated our first patient to the UK from Latin America, four year old Bitia from El Salvador. She was born with the rare cardiac condition double outlet right ventricle defect, whereby the pulmonary artery and the aorta, the heart’s two great arteries, both arise from the right ventricle. Bitia frequently suffered from attacks of cyanosis, where her heart was not able to pump enough oxygen around her body, and she would turn blue and be quickly exhausted. 

We co-funded Bitia’s journey to the UK with our partner Gift of Life International, where she underwent surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London with Chain of Hope surgeon Professor Francois Lacour-Gayet. After a long operation, Bitia spent two weeks recovering in Intensive Care and then on the children’s ward, before she was well enough to be discharged into the care of her host family. Her hosts were Norman and Karen, new volunteers who provided a very loving environment for Bitia and her mother Ana as they went through this life-changing experience. 

Bitia recovered enough to return to El Salvador a little over a month after her arrival, much to the delight of her family. Her mother Ana was unable to go to work as caring for Bitia took all of her time, and so she was very much looking forward to returning to work to help support her family once they returned home. The knock-on effects of heart surgery in communities such as Bitia’s are often life-changing and the healthiness of the children can enable a family to begin anew.


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