1,000th child gets life-saving surgery

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Five out of every 10,000 babies are born with Tetralogy of Fallot. It is a rare congenital heart defect that can be fixed with surgery.

But not every child born with the disease can get that surgery where they are from. So a local hospital is playing a role in helping those children get their lives back to normal.

It was all smiles and pictures Thursday night, but that was not the case in the recent past.

Nomin was born with a rare heart defect that could have ended her life before adulthood.

“It was really hard to accept it that my child has this kind of defect,” said Otgon Jargal, Nomin’s mother through an interpreter.

She said knowing the surgery the child needed is not available in their native Mongolia made things even worse.

“Words are not enough to express how I felt,” Jargal said.

Luckily those with the Children’s Heart Project found them.

“We bring children from other countries where heart surgery isn’t available to children’s hospitals in North America. They have surgery, they stay here for five to eight weeks and then they go back home,” said Cindy Bonsall, director of Children’s Heart Project.

Before Nomin and her mother go back home there was a celebration to take place. She is the 1,000th child to have undergone heart surgery through Children’s Heart Project.

“The first year we brought ten kids out and now over the years we’ve grown and we’ve partnered with more and more children’s hospitals so we bring about 80 children a year now,” Bonsall said.

Since they teamed up with the Mayo Clinic in 1998, 67 of those surgeries took place there.

“These children would have no access to surgery, no chance at life without the help of North American hospitals like Mayo Clinic,” Bonsall said.

Nomin’s mother does not know what she would have done without the help of these people.

“It’s just amazing, just the whole process. Many people are just becoming one and working together. It’s so beautiful,” Jargal said.

Nomin has been living with a host family while in the country. They provide food, lodging and transportation for not only the child, but for her mother and an interpreter.

Many Mayo doctors have played that role in the past.

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