At ForHearts Worldwide, our mission is to provide life-saving pacemaker surgery to those in need. Most of us in the U.S. take the availability of pacemakers and access to the medical specialists who implant them for granted. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for a large portion of the global population. Over one million people die every year worldwide because they cannot afford a pacemaker—a procedure that can cost over $60,000.
By developing a network of physicians, medical professionals, and facilities across the globe, ForHearts Worldwide can save lives by coordinating with these partners to provide the needed devices and procedures at minimal costs.
Connecting patients in need of a life-saving device with the doctor who can provide and perform the surgery is not where our work ends. Instead, it is the beginning of a lifelong doctor-patient relationship.
Building Lifelong Relationships
Pacemakers are highly impactful devices with a low-risk rate, but no device is the same, and of course, no patient is the same. Therefore, pacemaker patients must receive critical follow-up care to have their device monitored for proper performance, battery life and ensure the device is doing its job—keeping the patient alive by regulating heart rhythm.
Through ForHearts Worldwide, our patients receive ongoing cardiac care for life. After undergoing their pacemaker procedure, the patient continues to see the same physician, whether at the local hospital, Heart Center, or dedicated clinic day for ForHearts Worldwide patients. Physicians fully assimilate these patients into their practice and they are treated no differently than a “paying” patient. The only difference is in who is paying—ForHearts Worldwide supplements their care through the generosity of our donors.
“I think it’s a unique aspect of our organization,” says Laura DeLise, Executive Director of ForHearts Worldwide. “We have some beautiful relationships that have developed out of our mission. It’s the doctor who follows his patient for 5, 10, 15, 20 years—however long, to ensure that the pacemaker is doing what it needs to do and providing ongoing care as needed.”
Cardiologist Ricardo Meneses of Mexico is one of those doctors. He has been performing pacemaker implantation surgeries in partnership with ForHearts Worldwide since 1987 and can recount the patients that are still under his care. “There are patients who have been in our care for 20 to 25 years,” he says. “We’ve worked with children who are now parents with children of their own!” One of those “children” is Arturo Seguro, a young boy suffering from heart problems since the age of three. Arturo and his family traveled more than 100 miles from their small town in Mexico so he could receive life-saving pacemaker surgery from Dr. Meneses, funded by Heartbeat International Foundation. Now, in his twenties, Arturo continues to see Dr. Meneses for regular follow-up care and monitoring.
“You’re able to see how this person keeps on with their life,” says Dr. Meneses of the lifelong care he provides. “It’s nice to see that you’ve been a partner in a partnership that allows someone to carry on with their life.”
Becoming Partners for Life
The ongoing impact our partner physicians and Heart Centers have on the lives of these patients are profound, with many going above and beyond to ensure patients receive the ongoing care they need. Including, arranging for transportation, offsetting transportation costs, or scheduling to accommodate access, as patients often live hundreds of miles from the doctor or Heart Center.
With pacemakers lasting on average for five to seven years, several patients are now on their second, third, or even fourth device through Heartbeat International Foundation. This follow-up care makes our corporate partnerships with device manufacturers like BIOTRONIK crucial. Their generosity and understanding of the need for ongoing care for pacemaker recipients make it possible for us to provide these devices, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, to our physicians for free.
“The aspect of ‘patient for a lifetime’ is truly that. It’s the lifetime of the patient, not the device,” says DeLise. “They are continuing to thrive because of the device they have and the fact that they are our patient for life.”
ForHearts Worldwide brings together some of the best people in the medical profession, people who are generous, kind, and passionate—passionate about medicine, about providing for people, and about saving lives. For Dr. Meneses, it is also a passion for his home and his family. “In a country like ours, we have a lot of indigent persons who are not able to have this technology for saving their lives, preserving their welfare,” he says. “I’m a lucky person. I love my country. My father was a kind person who helped indigent persons, so it’s given me a chance to continue his philanthropy. My children have witnessed and have followed this feeling of helping others, which is only possible if you have a friend like Heartbeat International Foundation to unselfishly help us.”
Learn how you can support the life-saving and lifelong care Heartbeat International Foundation provides through our donation opportunities.