When you give to ForHearts Worldwide, you’re giving the gift of life. By donating, our supporters are funding pacemaker implantation surgery and lifelong follow-up care for an individual in need. Since 1984, we’ve saved 17,000 lives, and counting!
Our mission to provide life-saving cardiac care for people in developing countries is helping patients without means or access to overcome their heart conditions so they can live full and healthy lives.
Christine Bocus is one of those patients, and now she’s living her best life! But that wasn’t always the case.
Strengthening a Young Heart
Instead of being one of the active kids in her town in Trinidad, Christine was tired all the time and often fell asleep at school. Her life was limited by a heart condition—a third degree heart blockage. She received the diagnosis at age 14.
“My family was very concerned hearing about this news,” Christine says. “My parents limited me a lot growing up, treating me as if I was fragile.”
A third degree heart block is considered a complete heart blockage, where there is no transmission of electrical pulses to the heart’s ventricles. Christine needed the artificial electrical stimulation of a pacemaker to help regulate her heartbeat.
Upon hearing that she needed this device, “at first it was concerning,” says Christine “What does having a pacemaker mean? At that age, my only concern was would this make me feel better? Can I go outside with my friends? Can I go to school without feeling sleepy and tired all the time?”
For her parents, they now had a new challenge: the cost. It was a device and procedure the family could not afford. A social worker at the public hospital where Christine was being treated referred her to the local Rotary Club, which in turn, introduced her family to Heartbeat International (now ForHearts Worldwide).
“The only thing that calmed them was speaking to our representative at Heartbeat International in Trinidad, Farouk. He reassured us at every step,” says Christine.
Most important to Christine, she received confirmation that she could be a normal, active teenager, “that it was okay to participate in events or play as though I didn’t have a pacemaker.”
When it came time for Christine to receive her pacemaker, “both the doctors and staff were very detailed about the procedure. They were even there for after care.”
And that after care is for life. ForHearts doesn’t just help patients secure device implantation and then send them on their way. Every ForHearts patient receives regular post-procedure checkups for heart and pacemaker performance monitoring and pacemaker replacement when needed, completely free of charge.
Christine is on her third pacemaker and receives checkups every six months with Dr. Sateesh Ramphall at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago.
These regular checkups have become regular meetups with the team that saved her life.
“I love interacting with the people. I even keep in contact,” she says. “Everytime I have a clinic [appointment] I must say ‘hi’. Once I see the office is open, I will stop by for a quick hello and chat a bit.”
Living a Fulfilling and Successful Life
The girl who just wanted to be able to play outside with her friends is now doing “everything” she never thought possible, like celebrating another birthday and a wedding anniversary.
“I’m looking forward to traveling for my and my husband’s birthday in September (we’re a few days apart). If not then, definitely in January for my third wedding anniversary.”
When asked about the goals she’s currently pursuing, Christine’s excited response is, “there’s so many!”
“In terms of my career, I’m aiming for a promotion by the end of this year in the finance field.” she says. “Life is great! To be honest, I don’t even feel like I have a pacemaker. I am eating and doing the most to ensure that I live a fulfilling and successful life.”
That starts with living her healthiest life, a goal she’s passionately pursuing.
“Recently I have become health conscious, in terms of diet—not because of the pacemaker but to be fit and have ‘a good beach body,’” she says with a laugh. “I don’t want to wait until I’m older to hear ‘you need to lose weight, or ‘stop eating junk’ from a doctor. I do try to workout a bit, either by 30-day challenges or by just walking in the evenings for 30 minutes.”
From falling asleep in class as a child to maintaining a fitness schedule, Christine’s physical journey is truly inspiring.
“I often say, if I don’t tell people I have a pacemaker, they won’t know,” Christine says, but recently she did have the opportunity to share the story of her pacemaker and how she received it. She was one of the guest speakers at the second annual “A Night ForHearts” gala, an evening recognizing ForHearts supporters and celebrating lives saved—lives like Christine’s.
In addressing the people whose support made her life-saving procedure and care possible, her words were ones of encouragement, “Keep up the great work!” and gratitude for the opportunity to give: “It’s amazing to be part of this organization.”
At ForHearts Worldwide we are dedicated to providing life-saving cardiac care to those in need around the world, and we are proud to see the positive impact our work is having on the lives of patients like Christine. We invite you to be part of our mission.