FIJI – Little “Apenisa” was only 5 months old, but already he had spent more time in the hospital than most people do in their entire lives. The boy had been born with a congenital heart defect, and like half of all children in Fiji who are born with a heart condition, he would need surgery within his first year of life if he were to have a chance of surviving.
But unfortunately, Apenisa’s family lived in Fiji, and they were not wealthy. There was simply no way they could afford the thousands of dollars it would cost to get their baby to a cardiac surgeon. The local hospital staff had done all they could to prolong Apenisa’s life this long, but his condition only continued to worsen.
By this time, Apenisa had gone into severe congestive heart failure, struggled to breathe, and was unable to eat. His mother felt so helpless, watching her baby suffer in that hospital bed. She tried to steel herself for the inevitability of leaving the hospital without her son, but her heart was breaking.
Then one morning, a doctor at the hospital brought news of hope – an international medical mission team was coming to this very hospital, and they had both the expertise and the medical supplies to offer children like Apenisa cardiac surgery, for free. Apenisa’s mother could hardly believe what she was hearing. Was there actually hope that her baby could live?
“The baby had a successful cardiac repair and was put back on the road to recovery,” Dr. Setty said. His mother was overcome with gratitude, because she knew that “otherwise, she would have lost the baby.”
When the team arrived, led by Dr. Shaun Setty, a congenital cardiac surgeon from California, they unloaded boxes of surgical supplies that they had brought from MAP International, and set to work. Little Apenisa was one of 30 children that the team operated on that week.
Receiving surgery free of charge is an incredible gift to families like Apenisa’s. But even more incredible is the miracle of a child’s life being saved. No longer did Apenisa’s mother have to watch her son suffer, waiting for death to take him from her. Because of Dr. Setty’s team and the donated medical supplies from MAP, Apenisa’s mother felt like she had received her son back from the dead.
If you would like to give life and hope to more children in need like Apenisa, visit map.org to learn how you can support our mission around the world.