Have you ever waited 12 years for something?
Two days ago, I walked through the ward at 7:30 a.m. to see how the kids were doing. Eleven lifesaving surgeries so far—the ward is filling up!
That morning, I ran into a dad who asked for help. He told me he was waiting for our cardiologist to look at his 12-year-old son. I smiled and showed him where he needed to wait and then ran to make sure our cardiologist would make his way over to do the screening.
Then it was lunchtime. Then it was dark. I walked from the OR to the ward again and I saw the same dad waiting in the exact same place.
"Why are you still here?"
"I'm still waiting for my son's echo."
I still don't know what happened, or how his son ended up as the last child to be looked at for the day, but he was.
"I'm sorry you've been waiting so long for your son's echo. It will be his turn soon."
"We've been waiting 12 years for today," he responded. "We can wait a little longer."
When his son was born, the doctors told him that his son had two holes in his heart that would eventually take his life. His family held onto those reports for 12 years, waiting for someone else to tell them that he could provide the lifesaving heart surgery their son needed.
Later that night, I followed up with the cardiologist to make sure everything went alright. I asked him if he had done the screening and he replied, "Oh, you mean the 12-year-old boy with a normal heart?"
My jaw dropped. A normal heart?
Some heart defects heal naturally over time, and it is possible that this child's heart defect at birth was no longer there at 12 years old. Or, he could have been misdiagnosed—those two holes might have never been there in the first place. We'll never know.
This is what it's like to raise a family in a city with no trained pediatric cardiologists.
Can you imagine waiting 12 years for a trained doctor to look at your child? Can you imagine waiting 12 years for a lifesaving surgery that you might never have needed in the first place?
So far this mission, over 500 hours of hands-on training have been given to the local medical team, and that means they're 500 hours closer to being able to provide their city and their entire province with the healthcare they deserve.