Little Hearts, Big Mission

Look anywhere during February and you'll see an article about women's and men's heart issues. But what about the children of heart disease?  And what if those children live in a Third World country without access to proper medical care and hospitals to take care of them?

Two San Diego heart surgeons made a trip to Cambodia in 2008 to help children in that position. Dr. Michael Madani of UCSD Medical Center  and his mentor and fellow surgeon, Dr. Jolene Kriett, of Rady's Children’s Hospital, performed numerous surgeries in the the town of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

“There were a lot of really sick kids," Madani said. "They needed a complicated cardiac surgery, and the local hospital is very rudimentary.” 

Madani said that in Westernized countries, those kinds of complications would normally be remedied within the first week or two of life, through surgery or medication.

Buying something as simple as a bus ticket can prevent some poor families from even getting to the hospital.

“Taking a trip such as this resets my thermometer, as far as my life, what I take for granted and all the advantages we have in the U.S.," Madani said. 

"There’s nothing more rewarding and enjoyable than to see a great smile on one of these kids who previously could barely walk or breathe," Madani said. "We make it possible for them to have a relatively normal life.”

The doctors efforts are being supported by the Variety Children's Lifeline.

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