Letters From Ecuador: The Arrival [2]

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Editor’s Note:

I want to thank Margaret R. Harrington, who was a perfusion student close to graduation, and volunteered her time to work with The International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF) and Brian Forsberg, MPH, CCP, on a pediatric mission to Ecuador.  The following is her narrative and insight- as well as her photography of the events and the great story that transpired.

Ms. Harrington is now a CCP and working as a perfusionist. 


The Arrival…

Cold, heavy rain blanketed the empty Iowa streets

as I left my apartment on the morning of December 3rd. Though it was 4:00 A.M., the quiet darkness of the world that greeted me seemed almost strange and unexpected, as I was barely able to contain my overwhelming excitement.

I was on my way to Ecuador, and already more than certain that the upcoming two weeks would prove to be amazing. And I was not to be disappointed.

Several months earlier I had won a scholarship sponsored by AmSECT and Perfusion Without Borders to attend a cardiac surgery mission trip in order to shadow an experienced perfusionist. After much deliberation, I decided upon Guayaquil, Ecuador as my destination of choice, hoping that perhaps my Spanish minor might be of help.

I would be part of a medical team representing the International Children’s Heart Foundation, an organization that has been working since 1994 to diagnose and treat children with congenital heart disease worldwide. Not only does ICHF bring to their destinations the healthcare professionals and the technology necessary to perform these urgently-needed operations, but they also thoroughly and skillfully train local medical personnel, so that over time these developing areas are able to sustain fully-functioning facilities on their own.

The organization was founded by Dr. William M. Novick, a renowned and remarkably gifted pediatric cardiac surgeon, whose passion and dedication for this cause has currently resulted in over 5,000 operations worldwide for children in need. Dr. Novick operated with our team during the first week of our mission, and the opportunity to work as part of his team was truly a privilege.

I could say the same for all of our team members. As I met each of them and discovered each one’s diverse backgrounds and experience, it became clear that we comprised a unique group.

It was obvious that everyone was not only talented, hard-working and serious about their work, but also extremely committed to the ICHF endeavor of helping children in need. Our team members were mostly from the U.S., but we also had volunteers from Chile and Belarus.

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