Los Cabos Children's Foundation
Announces New Phase to Cardiac Surgery Program
The President and CEO of the Los Cabos Children's Foundation (LCCF), Greg Edwards, announced today a new phase in their program serving children with congenital heart defects. LCCF is a both a USA 501.c.3 non-profit organization and a Mexican A.C. Donataria which dedicates itself to improving the health of children of low-income families in the southern area of Baja California. Over the last eight months, the collaborative effort between LCCF, Omaha's Children Hospital and the Mexican government has created an opportunity to pioneer open heart surgery for children here in the Baja rather than sending them to the USA. A team of seventeen medical professionals including pediatric cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologist, intensivist, perfusionist, and specialized nurses have been assembled to perform this crucial heart surgery on 10 to 12 local children who have been on a waiting list for this kind of extremely delicate and complicated intervention not previously available in BCS. The surgeries will take place June 15th through the 26th at the ISSSTE hospital in La Paz, the capital of the state. Considering that this kind of surgery is not available anywhere else in the state, LCCF has received special permission for all children regardless of their particular health insurance (IMSS, ISSSTE, Seguro Popular) or location of residence in BCS (Los Cabos, Cuidad Constitución. El Triunfo, La Paz), to be served.
Gail Freels, the Chair of the Board of Directors of LCCF, explained how previously LCCF had been sending local children with these severe heart conditions, along with a family member, to the USA in either Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Omaha, Nebraska for treatment. The history of this process has been through an important collaboration between LCCF, Amigos de los Niños, Avera McKennan Hospital of South Dakota and the Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Nebraska. This was not only a traumatic experience for the families but also a very expensive solution. After five years, LCCF and its dedicated partners are now prepared to pioneer these services in the BCS under the well- organized hand and guidance of Chief Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon Dr. James Hammel of the Children's Hospital and Medical Center of Omaha. Dr. Hammel has been able to coordinate the busy schedules of these seventeen prestigious physicians and medical professionals from several parts of the U.S. and enlist their help and support in bringing new life to these children in need- right here in the Baja.
Since there is currently no children's cardiac surgery program in the State of BCS, Edwards emphasized that an important part of the plan of LCCF is to provide specialized training to the local medical team. Therefore, the program for this year has two events, June and November, with the US doctors doing the principal part of the operations, using the latest in techniques, with the Mexican surgeons and nurses assisting them. Next year the team from the US will again participate in two clinics, however, as a result of the training program, the plan is for the US team to bring fewer members and the Mexican medical professionals to take increasing responsibility. In this way, not only will the approximately 20 BCS children per year with congenital heart defects get the specialized surgery that they so desperately need, but a long term sustainable cardiac surgery program with trained local doctors and nurses in the region will be established.
The Governor of Baja California Sur, Marcos Covarrubias, as well as the First Lady, Maria Helena Hernandez de Covarrubias, who is also the Head of the DIF (the office for the "Integrated Development of the Family") for the State Government, have given their whole-hearted support to this program from the very beginning of its conception. In addition, a very significant multi- disciplinary team including important government officials, Directors at all levels of the ISSSTE medical system, Senators, the Secretary of Public Health, local and ex-pat Physicians and the Salvatierra Hospital have combined with the work of many dedicated non-profits and individuals to make this historic process possible. The LCCF Duckett Challenge Golf Tournament, through the extremely generous donations of many caring individuals, has raised the funds to make this all a reality! There are simply too many supporters to mention them all by name! Thank you...you know who you are! How wonderful is that! A true community project thinking only of saving and improving the quality of the lives of these special children with heart defects!
This altruistic help for these children, many with potentially life-threatening conditions, will be carried out this first time in the new ISSSTE Hospital in La Paz. The children will be coming from all over BCS including Cuidad Constitución, El Triunfo, Los Cabos and La Paz. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the organization Tedda Bemalcu, who has eagerly and willingly agreed to assist with the coordination of the travel, feeding and hosting of the children and families from outside La Paz. We give special thanks for the support of the Federal Delegate of the ISSSTE in BCS, as well as the ISSSTE authorities that head the national office of this agency in Mexico City. Greg Edwards explained to us that the ISSSTE Hospital in La Paz has the only specialized heart pump in the entire state of B.C.S. which is needed for children's surgery. The LCCF considers it a magnificent gesture on the part of this governmental agency to lend its high-tech equipment and installations to the group of doctors who are coming here to so generously give of their time and professional services to carry out this worthy cause.
The Blood Bank in La Paz (including the equipment from Santa Josefina Blood Bank from Los Cabos which was donated to Salvatierra Hospital) will also have an important role to play in the success of the surgeries to be done during this life-saving effort that will be realized by the group of doctors that are coming here to the Baja this month.