Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A year after repairing Raniel's heart defect, volunteer surgeons returned to check on their young patient and found a boy transformed.
The thin lad who had sat on the sidelines was about to be a class leader at his school. And his ambitions didn't stop there: "I'd like to be a lawyer or a judge," the 13-year-old said.
Before his surgery, Raniel's heart defect limited his dreams for the future — and his ability to keep up with his peers. A volunteer cardiac surgery team using donated medicines and surgical supplies from AmeriCares traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and successfully repaired Raniel's heart in July 2012. A year later, he can be as active as he likes. "Things I could never do before, I can do themnow," Raniel explained, "like football (soccer), athletics and cricket."
The Caribbean Heart Menders team that operated on Raniel travels to Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston each year, performing surgeries with supplies and medicines from AmeriCares at no cost to patients. Raniel's family could not afford surgery for his life-threatening condition; this volunteer team was their only option. With each visit, the team also provides staff training and follow-up care.
The surgery team that helped Raniel is just one of nearly 1,000 volunteer medical teams that use donated medicines and supplies from AmeriCares to provide charitable health care in more than 75 countries each year. In 2013, these skilled teams supported by AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program performed more than 40,000 surgical procedures, from simple repairs to the complex surgery that changed Raniel's life.
Raniel has a message for his doctors and the donors who make their trips possible. "Thanks to them all and continue for the rest of the children!"