When little two-year-old Marvin Naanai was brought by his mother to see volunteer cardiologist Dr. Steven Compton on Christmas Island in Kiribati four months ago, it was apparent that Marvin had a hole in his heart and needed urgent cardiac surgery.
He was listless and weak. Without surgery, Marvin was not expected to live for more than a year or two. His condition was described as ventricular septal defect (VSD).
With the help of the newly-formed HeartGift Dallas and it’s president, Barbara Johnson, we at Pacific Islands Medical Aid were able to get Marvin accepted for surgery at Childrens Medical Center in Dallas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Honolulu helped a great deal by granting U.S. Visa waivers to Marvin and his mother so he could have life-saving surgery in the United States. Dr. Kristine Guleserian, MD, director of cardiac transplantation at Childrens, a part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, agreed to do the surgery and HeartGift organized accommodations for Marvin and his mother.
With the help of Mending Kids International in Burbank, California, we at PIMA took care of transportation from Christmas Island to Honolulu and onward to Dallas, Texas with the aid of American Airlines Miles for Kids program.
Marvin’s surgery was judged a great success and physicians now expect that he will have a full, normal life.
It was a collaborative effort, to be sure, and we are pleased that another child from the Central Pacific will be able to return home to a full, healthy life.