Comprehensive cardiac care — measurably expanding access to timely, life-saving treatment for babies, children, and adults worldwide — inspired our training mission to Lima, Peru. In December 2016, six months following our last trip, a team of nine cardiac specialists led by doctors Nilas Young (chief of cardiothoracic surgery, UC Davis), Jeff Southard (cardiologist, UC Davis), and David Teitel (pediatric cardiologist, UCSF) returned to the Instituto Nacional Cardiovascular (INCOR) to enhance cardiac care for Peruvian adults and children using a two-pronged approach:

  1. Diagnosing, treating, and providing post-operative care for patients with advanced valvular disease undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
  2. Teaching best practices for the prevention of hospital-acquired infections in the pediatric intensive care unit. 

An additional objective was to further build our relationships with our new Peruvian colleagues as we move forward with our collaboration to expand nationwide comprehensive cardiac care throughout Peru.

Fighting heart disease, December 2016. Heart to Heart specialists provide advanced education and training to expand cardiac care in areas of need. This mission focused on the surgical and percutaneous treatment of congenital and valvular diseases.

Thanks to our partnership with Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, we were able to replace the valves of seven patients with advanced heart disease. TAVR, a catheter-based valve replacement option, extends a patient’s life and also significantly improves quality of life. TAVR technology allows for the replacement of the aortic valve through the blood vessels — a cutting-edge alternative for older patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery. The joint Heart to Heart-INCOR team conducted seven TAVR procedures on patients like Juanita and Carlos

Teaching comprehensive cardiac care is not limited to the operating room; in fact, successful treatment depends on quality patient management from hospital admission to discharge. To that end, we concentrated our clinical training on the prevention of hospital-acquired infections in INCOR’s pediatric ICU. Heart to Heart volunteers closely reviewed best practices with our Peruvian colleagues with the goal of preventing infections in the pediatric ICU. Further, the pediatric ICU physicians were particularly interested in techniques to more efficiently identify patients with infections and the problems that can arise from the overuse of antibiotics.

Heart to Heart prides ourselves on our high-level communication with our Peruvian colleagues during and in between each mission – which enables us to better understand the unique needs of our counterparts and their environment. Consistent high-level communication allows our team of top medical professionals to provide the most effective recommendations and training as the program evolves to self-sustainability.

Our third trip to Lima provided us with a great opportunity to personally connect with colleagues and to lay groundwork for our full surgical-educational mission in March 2017. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues at INCOR to make progress toward our mutual goal: ensuring that all Peruvians with heart disease have access to world-class cardiac care.

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