The May 2015 Cardiac Treatment Mission was a resounding success!

  • Twelve children underwent technically successful and safe cardiac operations. There was a range of operations from the “simple” to the very complex, and patients of a variety of ages but generally younger, five months to six years old, and earlier operations than in past campaigns.
  • The visiting team of 22 doctors, nurses, a perfusionist, a respiratory therapist and translators came entirely from Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Omaha.
  • The Mexican operating room team included a pediatric perfusionist, a cardiac surgeon, a surgical resident in training, scrub nurses and circulating nurses with cardiac experience, each working side by side with an Omaha counterpart. The Mexican professionals who will eventually take over a self-sufficient pediatric cardiology program are taking advantage of this incredible training opportunity.
  • A newer, more modern heart-lung machine was donated to the program and put into use in time for the second half of operations performed during this mission.
  • The Blood Bank was called into action and tested for the first time with an exceptionally challenging operation that lasted 10 hours and required 16 units of blood. Several members of Dr. Hammel’s team remarked that the effort, cooperation, and response times of the blood bank personnel were equal or superior to transfusion support available at times in Omaha.



What began as a series of open heart surgery rounds under the leadership and funding of the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation (LCCF) has grown into a complex process of developing all the components of a cardiology, cath and surgery program that tends to the children of Baja California Sur (BCS) all year long. As this process and its many factors evolved in medical complexity, with the need for recruitment, the broadening and formalizing the program into the IMSS, ISSSTE and Seguro Popular health plans, the initiating of an outreach across the state and larger and larger numbers of children needing post-surgery follow-up, it became apparent a new form was needed. As a solution to this wonderful problem of growth, a new organization was created under the leadership of Dr. James Hammel, Cardiothoracic Surgeon of the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, NE, and Greg Edwards, former Executive Director of LCCF.

Titled Abriendo Corazones – Opening Hearts (AC-OH), it is a nonprofit dedicated to building an accredited pediatric cardiac care program available to all children in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico, in collaboration with LCCF and the State government. As of April 2015 and beginning with the 5th round of surgeries, AC-OH has coordinated the medical development and logistics of the pediatric cardiac care program. LCCF, the impetus behind this pioneering work, will continue as the funding and monitoring foundation for the project and ensuring its growth and security into the future for the children of BCS.

The roles may have changed, however, the entire pediatric cardiac care process is a close collaboration and partnership between the two agencies, LCCF and AC-OH, who, together with the Salvatierra Hospital, the State Secretary of Health, and other supporting organizations like Corazón de Niño and Amigos de los Niños, will continue working toward better cardiac health for all the children who live in BCS.


Leave a comment