$258 per Child

Because we teach how to save lives, Heart to Heart’s per-child cash investment is surprisingly low – $258 per child saved.

2,000+ Annually

At six of Heart to Heart-sponsored pediatric cardiac centers abroad more than 2,000 children receive life-saving cardiac procedures each year.

See our medical volunteers in action and hear a local doctor speak about why Heart to Heart's unique education-based approach and teaching are so important.

The Four Components of Our Program Model

Although Heart to Heart’s annual surgical-educational missions to each sponsored site are the highlight of each team’s programmatic year, much work is done year-round to support and evolve each team-in-training. While our colleagues abroad are putting new skills we teach into practice in between our visits, members of our medical advisory council are reviewing surgical outcomes to determine our next “educational” steps. The internet makes it possible for our medical volunteers to continue providing strategic guidance and mentoring of team department heads year-round as they implement Heart to Heart’s recommendations to reach the next level of complexity. Our program model components are:

Data collection & analysis

Our experts provide year-round rigorous analysis of each developing team’s surgical outcomes. This enables us to give concise tailored feedback for improving outcomes and taking surgery to the next level of complexity. We begin by teaching emerging teams to collect and track their surgical outcomes data – ultimately teaching the local team how to use their data to self-evaluate and continuously improve outcomes.

Strategic guidance & leadership development

Heart to Heart provides year-round guidance on program development toward self-sustainability. Each year, we formulate tailored “next steps,” guiding department heads to (1) refine internal systems; (2) enhance teamwork; (3) improve staff knowledge base and clinical skills; and (4) utilize surgical outcomes data for self-evaluation.

Annual surgical-educational missions

A Heart to Heart team of medical volunteers (12-15 practicing cardiac specialists) works with a cardiac team abroad at their home institution for two weeks each program year. Side-by-side, the joint team cares for children with heart defects – from diagnosing and performing open heart surgery, to managing patients in intensive care post-operatively. The experiential, clinically-based, patient-centered training we provide is complemented each day by tailored case conferences, workshops, and lectures.

Scholar exchange & continuing education

Heart to Heart arranges for physicians to learn best practices and specific surgical/clinical techniques at more advanced centers in the U.S. We also sponsor our colleagues to attend international conferences. Additionally, Heart to Heart provides educational materials such as software, textbooks, and on-line journal subscriptions. We actively promote quality research projects collaboratively with our colleagues abroad, including abstract and manuscript production for international meetings and we promote educational conferences locally and on a regional/national level. Watch a short video featuring one of our scholars.

In 2012, with funding from the World of Children Award, Heart to Heart established the Nilas Young World of Children Traveling Fellowship. This annual fellowship will enable Heart to Heart – in perpetuity – to bring aspiring pediatric cardiac specialists to the U.S. for training and education at leading children’s heart centers.

Our Program Model: Cost-Effective, Replicable, and Scalable

Heart to Heart pioneered our education-based program model over 30 years ago, to teach and train emerging teams of pediatric cardiac specialists. Heart to Heart guides each team we train to develop a self-sustaining children’s heart center within 5-7 years. Our teaching methodology utilizes every case as a valuable team-wide teaching opportunity as we exercise the privilege to save a child’s life.

Heart to Heart’s approach remains (1) data-driven, (2) education-based, and (3) implemented by professionally coordinated advanced specialists working as medical volunteers. Now, after 30 years, our program model has proven itself to be not only cost-effective, but also replicable and scalable. Its success continues to attract advanced pediatric cardiac specialists from leading U.S. children’s heart centers to travel halfway across the world, year after year, to transfer their knowledge and experience to develop life-saving programs.

The Global Potential of Our Program Model

We welcome other cardiac professionals and humanitarian organizations to collaborate with us to benefit thousands of children worldwide. Our model has great potential to address global health inequities in other areas of need where (1) physicians are capable of collaboration, and (2) local governments are able to invest in a long-term skills and knowledge transfer. Our experience building Russia’s nationwide capacity to save children born with heart defects can serve as a roadmap for others striving to modernize medicine for all children around the world.