The group, led by Dr. Juan Alejos, associate professor of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, wraps up its third annual trip to Arequipa, in southern Peru.
By Amy Albin
HUNDREDS OF Peruvian children suffering from congenital heart conditions will be resting a little easier, thanks to a visit by a team of volunteer pediatric heart experts from UCLA.
The group, led by Dr. Juan Alejos, associate professor of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, wraps up its third annual trip to Arequipa, in southern Peru, on Oct. 4, following more than three weeks of free surgeries, clinical evaluations and other medical procedures for needy children at local hospitals, orphanages and clinics.
"We do cardiac catheterization procedures, interventional and diagnostic procedures, echocardiograms, surgical interventions and dental evaluations," said Alejos, who founded the nonprofit Corazones con Esperanza (Hearts with Hope) Foundation five years ago to help provide medical and humanitarian assistance to children suffering from congenital heart disease throughout Latin America.
This trip is part of the group's five-year commitment to Arequipa and the city's Carlos Aberto Seguin Escobedo National Hospital to help them build a pediatric cardiology program.
The 55-member team — which includes surgeons, cardiologists, family practitioners, nurses, dentists and other volunteers from UCLA, as well as from Delaware's Nemours Cardiac Center, the University of Kentucky, Wisconsin Children's Hospital and Denver Children's Hospital — has certainly provided an excellent example.
Since Sept. 13, they have performed approximately 25 open-heart surgeries, 30 cardiac catheterizations, half a dozen automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator and pacemaker placements, 10 ablation procedures, 300 dental procedures, and more than a thousand clinical evaluations.
Extensive donations of medical and surgical supplies for the volunteer effort came from a variety of companies and institutions, including Medtronic, the UCLA Health System, Argon Medical Devices, Cook Medical, AGA Medical Corp., PFM Medical and many others.
"I am proud to be a physician at UCLA," said Alejos, whose family is originally from Peru. "The medical knowledge of the physicians is exceeded only by the compassion that I witness in every team member working with Corazones con Esperanza."