Beating the Odds: Olena’s Heart Surgery Triumph

Ukraine – “Olena” came into the hospital in Lviv feeling weak and anxious. There were some significant issues with her heart, her doctor had told her, and if she didn’t find a cardiologist who could replace her aortic valve, she would be in trouble. Her heart simply couldn’t continue to function without medical intervention.

By the grace of God, Olena had gotten connected with a MAP-supported mission team traveling to Ukraine to perform cardiac surgeries. This was likely her only chance to get the help she needed, but the thought of going through major heart surgery made her very anxious. Such an extensive procedure sounded risky. If she didn’t make it through the surgery, who would take care of her family?

Olena’s husband and son were both soldiers fighting at the frontlines for Ukraine, so she was caring for her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren. Olena felt deeply responsible for caring for her family while the men were gone. While she was terrified of going through with the operation, she also felt that she simply couldn’t afford to remain this sick and weak. Her family needed her, after all.

So with the encouragement of the volunteer surgeons, Olena took a deep breath and agreed to the surgery. Hours later, Olena awoke in the recovery room a new woman. The surgeons had replaced her calcified aortic valve with a plastic model generously donated by MAP International and Edwards Lifesciences, and it made all the difference. Already she could tell that her heart was working better than it had in years.

Now, Olena is recovering well at home. Her daughter-in-law is caring for her, and Olena can’t wait until she is strong enough to get back to helping care for her grandchildren again.

For Olena, getting a new heart valve was more significant than simply receiving a major surgery for free; for her, that heart valve meant physical healing, strength restored, and becoming self-sufficient again. Health for Olena also meant help for her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

To make a difference in the lives of more people like Olena – and the people who depend on them – visit to learn how you can join us in our mission to use medicine to give everyone the chance to live life to the fullest.


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