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situation has eased a bit in recent years. A nonprofit organization
founded in 1996 by the eldest daughter of Peruvian President Alberto
Fujimori, the Fundacion Peruana Cardioinfantil -- Peruvian Foundation
for Infant Cardiology -- is working to provide necessary resources
to pay for the medical treatment of children whose families cannot
afford care. Still, the need is well beyond the current resources
of the foundation. Thus far, the foundation has paid for about 280
operations, but each year in Peru an estimated 9,000 children are
newly diagnosed with heart disease.
not kid ourselves," Alejos says. "The dozen or so children we operate
on in the short time we are here isn't going to change anything.
But my goal is to continue building on this effort so these doctors
can learn how to perform these procedures without our help. We know
that what we are doing is not going to fix the world, and we are
not going to save every child. But we can make a small dent. We
have to do the best that we can."
that seems to be recompense enough for the medicos who volunteer
to join Alejos on his treks of mercy -- that and smiles and tears
on the faces of the mothers whose children they have just saved.
has been one of the most rewarding, wonderful experiences of my
life," says Sadeghi. "It makes me feel privileged to do what I do.
To save the life of a child who otherwise might not have had a chance
to live, and to see the joy and gratitude in the eyes of the mothers
and fathers goes beyond anything I have experienced."