Last month siblings Sarah Joy Nilo and Reynaldo Nilo left their home in the Philippines to travel over 5,000 miles to our Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan so that Reynaldo could receive necessary cardiac surgery free of charge. We are happy to share that the surgery was a success and Reynaldo is recovering happily under the care of our dedicated staff at the center!
Sarah and Reynaldo’s journey began a year ago when Sarah saw the 2013 Oscar Nominated short documentary Open Heart, which tells the story of eight Rwandan children who travel to the Salam Center outside of Khartoum, Sudan to receive open-heart surgery.
“I’m just very happy because I have a second chance in life”
The children featured in the film suffered from rheumatic heart disease, which develops from untreated childhood strep throat and is the same disease that had weakened the heart valves of Sarah’s 17-year-old brother Reynaldo. Sarah saw a chance for Reynaldo to receive the cardiac surgery he needed, which, in the Philippines, was cost prohibitive and inaccessible through charitable avenues. She contacted Kief Davidson, director of the film, explaining her brother’s need and asking for help. Kief brought in producer Cori Stern, who put her in touch with EMERGENCY.
Since its opening in 2007, the Salam Center has performed over 5,766 surgical interventions and has seen patients from 25 countries. Upon hearing about Reynaldo’s situation, EMERGENCY agreed to fund the necessary heart valve replacement surgery at the Center and pay for other medications that he needed for the rest of his life.
Reynaldo underwent surgery on June 16.
“I’m just very happy because I have a second chance in life,” Reynaldo told AFP.
The procedure came with some risk, but Reynaldo was accompanied by Sarah, his sister and constant advocate, who will continue to support him through the recovery process.
To help more kids like Reynaldo receive the life-saving cardiac surgery they need at our world class Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery