Over the twenty-one years I’ve been part of the heart community, I have seen many miracles but I haven’t had a chance to do as much as I’d like to help in the healing of a broken heart. Recently, however, something happened that has made me feel euphoric and very blessed to be part of such a tight knit community that has members willing to make a miracle happen.
In August 2015 I received a letter from a mother (Esther) who told me that she found me on the Internet and that she was a single mother of an only child (Elvis) and that he really needed open-heart surgery. I’ve received letters like this over the years but most of the letters were requests for financial donations. This mother told me that she needed help. She didn’t ask for money; she asked for help. In addition to that, she sent me scanned in copies of her son’s letter from his cardiologist stating what his heart condition was and that he needed surgery as soon as possible.
I had connected with two dads online who were from Africa and who had started nonprofit organizations. I immediately contacted these two dads and to my surprise, within 24 hours one of the dads told me that he had found a surgeon willing to do the surgery! I thought that would be the end of the situation, but it wasn’t. That offer fell through which I found out about when I wrote to Esther to ask how the surgery had gone. I immediately reached out to the two fathers again to see what had happened and what we could do to help the child.
Fareed Matthews of Brave Little Hearts SA was persistent. He continued reaching out to many other organizations hoping to find a surgeon to help Elvis. By November Fareed had found someone in India but the problem was getting the mother and child to the facility. Fareed continued undaunted and found someone in Turkey and Israel but there were complications with both of those situations, too. Then in January 2016 Esther replied to a note I had written to her to inform me that Elvis would have surgery in January in Texas! I couldn’t believe it!
Last week I drove to Dallas to meet Esther and Elvis. I was pinching myself. I couldn’t believe that in 5 months’ time I went from communicating with a complete stranger in Africa to actually driving to meet that woman — who now felt more like a friend than a stranger.
I cannot thank Fareed Matthews and HeartGift enough for their dedication to people like Elvis. This little boy has a new lease on life. His broken heart is now mended. He spent only one day in the ICU and is expected to be released from the hospital soon. It’s just amazing to me what loving, caring and concerned individuals can do to mend a broken heart.
Fareed told me that he had written to 18 organizations in 9 countries across 4 continents before Elvis’ help was finally secured. Fareed’s daughter was born with a number of critical congenital heart defects and she is the angel who has inspired him to help others born with broken hearts. I feel blessed for the contact I’ve had with everyone involved in this miracle.