In early May, Heart to Heart visited the city of Torreon, Mexico––one of three site assessment trips abroad thus far in 2018. To advance cardiac care in Latin America, we are in search of new collaborative partners in areas where pediatric heart surgery is not yet available. We were excited to meet with cardiac thought leaders to discuss bringing life-saving open heart surgery to the children in this region of Mexico for the first time.
The Republic of Mexico is bordered by the U.S. to the north, and Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador to the south. Prior to Spanish colonization in the early 16th century, it was home to a number of advanced civilizations, including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1810: it spans four time zones, is three times the size of Texas, and is home to more than 123 million people.
We visited the metropolis of Torreon, a city of 680,000 in the north-central Mexican state of Coahuila. Coahuila is Mexico’s third-largest state and borders Nuevo Leon to the east and Durango to the west, among others. The state of Coahuila alone accounts for a 318-mile stretch of the Mexico-U.S. border adjacent to Texas along the Rio Grande. Notably, Torreon is home to one of the world’s largest universities––the largest in Latin America––the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, which includes a medical school. Torreon serves as a medical hub for the approximately 10 million Mexicans living in the region.
In May 2018, Heart to Heart Founder & Medical Director, Nilas Young, MD; Executive Director, Josie Everett; and UC Davis cardiac surgeon, Victor Rodriguez, MD, traveled to Torreon to conduct preliminary site assessment work. Hosted by cardiac surgeon, Gerardo Serrano, MD, the Heart to Heart team visited the Hospital Universitario Dr. Joaquin del Valle Sanchez as well as two other medical institutions to discuss where and how a collaboration could take shape.
There is an urgent need to develop cardiac care in the region. Although there are some resources for adult patients, pediatric care is virtually nonexistent. Torreon is located 620 miles north of the country’s capital Mexico City, which serves as the main healthcare access point for the country’s large population. In the state of Coahuila alone, more than 500 children are born with congenital heart disease each year. Our collaboration would entail developing a children’s heart program de novo; that is, starting with extremely limited access and culminating in the region’s first children’s heart program, serving a population of nearly 10 million.
Please stay tuned for more Going Global updates! As Heart to Heart moves forward in Latin America, we will share with you how you can play a critically important role in saving the lives of thousands of children waiting for heart care.
Worldwide, all children and adults, regardless of where they are born or where they live, will have access to life-saving heart care.