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Gift of Life International

Healing little hearts in El Salvador

Since 2010, Gift of Life International has partnered with Benjamin Bloom National Children’s Hospital and Fundacion Latidos de Esperanza to transform the lives of Salvadoran children living with heart disease. As a result of our strategic approach to develop a sustainable pediatric cardiac program, El Salvador became a Gift of Life Legacy Program in 2018. Today, healthcare professionals in El Salvador reliably care for over 200 children annually. The pediatric cardiac program at Bloom Hospital has become one of the most prolific programs in Central America. The strategic development of the program at Hospital Benjamin Bloom includes a holistic approach encompassing pediatric cardiac care, humanized care and nutritional assistance.

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Stories from El Salvador.

Each child we save is another chapter in our story of how regular people, driven by passion, make a difference in the world. These are the stories of Salvadoran children who have been given a new chance at life. These are the stories that inspire us at Gift of Life International.

Stories from El Salvador

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El Salvador Program Development

2010 – El Salvador selected as 2nd Core Program

Following a site visit in 2009, it was determined that the pediatric cardiac program at Hospital Benjamin Bloom met the Gift of Life International criteria to be considered for Core Program Development. At the time of the site visit, the program at Bloom Hospital was operating on 65 children per year, had a 25% mortality rate and had been asked by the Ministry of Health to stop operating. Gift of Life International implemented the strategy to create a sustainable pediatric cardiac program in El Salvador and began development. The Our Hearts are in El Salvador Program saw 117 children treated throughout our global network across 13 countries in 30 affiliated hospitals to raise awareness for the need for a program in El Salvador.

2017 – Inauguration of the First-ever Dedicated Pediatric Cardiac ICU in El Salvador

The creation of this dedicated space for pediatric cardiac patients alleviated the need to cancel surgeries due to a lack of bed space. It improved patient outcomes due to less exposure to infection, dedicated and focused care, and state-of-the-art equipment. The construction and equipping of this dedicated intensive care unit were largely funded by Gift of Life International Affiliates Gift of Life Los Angeles and Gift of Life Rotary District 7505 in New Jersey.

2018 – El Salvador earns Legacy Status

By 2018 the equipment in the operating theater, ICU and general ward had all been upgraded. The entire Salvadoran team was trained in the treatment and aftercare of children with heart disease while a strong base of supplies and medications were made available from local vendors with supplemental support from GOLI. Local NGO and GOLI Affiliate Fundacion Latidos de Esperanza were positioned to support the program and a Nutritional Program and Humanized Care Program were put in place to support children, families and staff. The Salvadoran team were now independently operating on 150 children each year with a less than 5% mortality rate and the complexity of cases successfully operated on increased as a result of world-class mentorship from Gift of Life visiting teams and targeted training provided outside El Salvador.

2020 – Salvadoran Team continues to save lives throughout the pandemic

Despite the lockdowns, 177 children were provided lifesaving cardiac care throughout the pandemic. One Anesthesiologist and two Perfusionists travelled to Mexico and Argentina respectively for training, PPE was provided to all healthcare professionals, patients and families and nutritional packets were provided to each family of children treated.

2022 – First-ever Pediatric Catheterization Lab in a Public Hospital

A state-of-the-art pediatric catheterization lab was purchased and installed by the Ministry of Health to increase the capacity of the pediatric cardiac program. This is the first-ever pediatric cath lab in a public hospital in El Salvador.

2023 – Breaking heart-healing records

Thanks to the donation of a much-needed Heart-Lung Machine by Gift of Life International the Salvadoran team broke their own heart-healing record in 2023. They now have a full-time pediatric anesthesiologist and two full-time pediatric perfusionists dedicated to the program, and both surgeries and catheterizations are being completed on a daily basis by the Salvadoran team with adequate bed space for recovery. These capacity-building additions were one for the record books with a total of 223 little Salvadoran hearts healed in 2023.

Building a Legacy Program in El Salvador

Learn more about our work in El Salvador

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Ivonne Lopez, Executive Director of Fundación Latidos de Esperanza, Gift of Life International Affiliate in El Salvador.

“Our main focus has always been to give the opportunity to the Salvadorans to do the job they were trained to do. Without the partnership of Gift of Life International, a lot of children would not be alive today.”

Ivonne Lopez, Executive Director of Fundación Latidos de Esperanza (Gift of Life International Affiliate)

Our Impact in El Salvador since 2010.

2,655

Salvadoran Children Treated

6.86

Million Invested

40

Training Visits

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