The “Heart to Heart” philanthropic cardiac surgical mission to Santiago, Dominican Republic was started and organized by Robert D. Pascotto M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon of Fort Myers, Florida. Since September 2002, our teams have orchestrated two to three mission trips annually. Thus far 29 mission trips have been completed in Cabral and 7 mission trips in HOMS Hospital with a total of 386 patients have been operated on with excellent results.
This program was initiated to fulfill a void and need for cardiac surgery at Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Hospital in Santiago, Dominican Republic. This is a 520 bed public hospital that cares for indigent patients and serves a population of greater than 3.2 million people. There is no cardiac surgery in the area. The hospital has a medical school and residency program for postgraduate education affiliated with it.
With the start of the massive construction at Cabral, HOMS Hospital has been kind enough to allow us to perform our mission in their hospital, that is for the past 7 mission trips starting Nov 8, 2013. The indigent patients continue to be sent from Cabral for cardiac surgical intervention and are returned to Cabral after discharge from HOMS.
The patients are mostly young individuals with valvular heart disease. When not treated with antibiotics rheumatic fever can result in rheumatic heart disease affecting the valves of the heart. The aortic and mitral valves are mostly affected and need replacement. This disease process while still endemic in the DR is almost not existent in the US. Coronary bypasses are also performed for coronary artery disease. As you recognize these are very costly operative procedures.
Our cardiac surgical team to the Dominican Republic of 18 members is comprised of very qualified nurses, technicians, and assistants, cardiac surgeon and cardiac anesthesiologist, who are not only using their personal vacation time and spending time away from their families to make these journeys, but are also paying their own way to do so. They are from all parts of the US including OH, IL, TN, CA, WI, CT, IN, MD, PA, NY, MA, OH, OK, NE, VA, Ml as well as multiple locations in Florida. This is an all volunteer mission with no paid members.
While there we have educated young Dominican doctors and hospital staff in the care and treatment of the cardiac surgical patient. Lectures have been given. Informal talks have been given to various staff members at the bedside in the care of the cardiac surgical patient.
As a direct result of our program we have generated strong interest in young doctors in cardiac surgery. At present there are two individuals who are in US surgical programs and expect to continue in cardiac surgery and subsequently return to Santiago to practice cardiac surgery, a most rewarding aspect of our program. Our goal is to establish an ongoing program.
This program is strongly influenced by the tradition of service that physicians and the medical profession embrace. It provides a mechanism to gain insight into the importance of global vision and understanding in today’s world. This emotionally rich and rewarding experience benefits not only the patients and their families, but has dramatically affected all team members personally.
Patients that have been operated on have returned to work and now are contributing to their families and to society. Please visit our web site and go onto the various links: www.heartmission.com.
Our teams have felt that helping to aid in the preservation of human life in a country less fortunate than our own is an important calling. It is time to give back. Our next trip this year is April 21-30, 2017 with teams from Knoxville TN and Evansville, IN. Final trip is set for Oct 6-15, 2017 with team from Montefiore Hospital, New York City and Harvard/Mass General, Boston, MA. Without donations from various organizations. friends and family both financially and with donated product, our mission could not have continued.
Together we are helping save lives of Dominicans with low resources to obtain their needed open heart surgery. Your help is not only appreciated by me but also by the people of Santiago whose lives you help to save.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Robert Pascotto, MD