Bolivia - Funding heart surgery for children

The photo on the left shows Gabriela Stefani. She is often so frail that she can only play in a sitting position. Because we funded her heart surgery, little Gabriela now has the opportunity to develop into a healthy and happy child.

At the end of August 2005, a “cry for help“ reached us from La Paz in Bolivia: Gabriela, at the time 2½ years old, urgently needed heart surgery. The estimated costs for this operation were € 2000 – rather a large sum for Gabriela’s parents, who only earned the equivalent of €60 a month. The sister of our organisation’s founding member Noemi Castellanos lives in La Paz. She is a friend of the cardiologist Dr. Alexandra Freudenthal. This is how she heard of little Gabriela’s problem.

In Bolivia, only 20% of the population has medical insurance. 80% either relies on public health care they have to pay for or on expensive private health care. La Paz aims to provide free health care for children. However, the available funds are only sufficient for basic health care. Very sick children – for example those suffering from a heart condition – are left to their fate without treatment (additional information).

Meanwhile, the “Buddy Bear Help e.V.“ has paid the costs involved in treating nine children. We – the members of the Buddy Bear Help e.V. – are very happy to enable these children to lead a “normal” life. And since there is still a long waiting list, we will continue to fund more surgery.