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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg Pediatr Card Surg Annu. 2009:8-11. doi: 10.1053/j.pcsu.2009.01.003.

Pediatric cardiac surgery: a challenge and outcome analysis of the Guatemala effort.

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1
Unidad de Cirugia Cardiovascular de Guatemala, Department of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.

Abstract

A large underserved population of children with congenital cardiac malformation (CCM) exists in many developing countries. In recent years, several strategies have been implemented to supplement this need. These strategies include transferring children to first-world countries for surgical care or the creation of local pediatric cardiovascular surgical programs. In 1997, an effort was made to create a comprehensive pediatric cardiac care program in Guatemala. The objective of this study is to examine the outcome analysis of the Guatemala effort. The goals of our new and first pediatric cardiac care program were to: 1) provide diagnosis and treatment to all children with a CCM in Guatemala; 2) train of local staff surgeons, 3) established a foundation locally and in the United States in 1997 to serve as a fundraising instrument to acquire equipment and remodeling of the pediatric cardiac unit and also to raise funds to pay the hospital for the almost exclusively poor pediatric cardiac patients. The staff now includes 3 surgeons from Guatemala, trained by the senior surgeon (A.R.C.), seven pediatric cardiologists, 3 intensivists, and 2 anesthesiologists, as well as intensive care and ward nurses, respiratory therapists, echocardiography technicians, and support personnel. The cardiovascular program expanded in 2005 to 2 cardiac operating rooms, 1 cardiac catheterization laboratory, 1 cardiac echo lab, 4 outpatients clinics a 6-bed intensive care unit and a 4-bed stepdown unit, a 20 bed general ward (2 beds/room) and a genetics laboratory. Our center has become a referral center for children from Central America. A total of 2,630 surgical procedures were performed between February 1997 and December 2007, increasing the number of operations each year. Postoperative complication occurred in 523 of 2,630 procedures (20%). A late follow-up study was conducted of all the patients operated from 1997 to 2005. Late mortality was 2.7%. Development of a sustainable pediatric cardiac program in emerging countries presents many difficult challenges. Hard work, perseverance, adaptability, and tolerance are useful aptitudes to develop a viable PCP in an "emerging" country. We are not in favor of Medical-Surgical Safari efforts, unless these efforts include training of a local team and eventual unit independence. It helps if an experienced (+/- senior/retired!) surgeon leads this effort on a full-time, pro bono basis. Local and international fund raising is essential to complement vastly insufficient government subsidies.

PMID:
19349009
DOI:
10.1053/j.pcsu.2009.01.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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