Heartbeat International was born out of compassion and generosity. In the early 1980's a Guatemalan physician, Dr. Federico Alfaro, watched helplessly as his young patient died for want of a pacemaker. The family couldn’t afford to pay for their child’s treatment.
Dr. Alfaro swore that would never happen again under his watch – and we at HBI have kept that promise alive for generations of patients around the world. We build international networks of physicians and industry to provide free pacemakers to those most in need.
Arturo's heart problems began when he was three years-old. His father worked long hours at a taco stand in Mexico to support the family, but he felt scared and helpless. “I didn’t have the money for that surgery. I couldn’t save my own son’s life.”
His mother was equally devastated. “When my son was sleeping, sometimes I couldn’t hear his heart, and I knew one day he might not wake up in the morning.”
Arturo’s family found hope when they met Dr. Ricardo Meneses of Heartbeat International. Arturo traveled 100 miles to a hospital and was rushed into surgery for a pacemaker implant.
Today, Arturo runs around and plays with his friends. The experience has had a positive impact – he's back at school and hopes to become a doctor someday.
Doama was six months pregnant and living in the slums when she collapsed while working as a housekeeper. The doctor discovered that her heartbeat was too slow – 40 bpm – but she couldn't afford treatment. Her life and her unborn child were in grave danger.
Doama was in critical need of a pacemaker. In collaboration with HBI, the Jamshedpur Rotary validated that Doama was too poor to afford treatment and Dr. V. Bharat promptly implanted the device without charge.
Three months later a beautiful, healthy baby girl was born. Doama brought the child to Dr. Bharat’s office to say thank you for her life, and for the life of her baby girl.
Trinidad & Tobago
In 2010, Mei-Gui was a 20 year-old patient of Heartbeat International's Heart Center in Trinidad & Tobago. Rather than suffer a bedridden life of fatigue, Mei-Gui's pacemaker has energized her days and allows her to live as an inspiration to others.
Since her treatment, Mei-Gui studied for her degree in Philosophy at the University of West Indies. She's started running marathons and hiking the mountain above the Mt. Saint Benedict's Abbey.
Mei-Gui is a lovely young woman and a shining example of the full life that HBI aims to restore for our patients.
Yuleisy was a sweet, shy seven year-old girl from of Ecuador. Before her pacemaker implant, she had very little energy and tired easily. Her family couldn't pay for her treatment, and they despaired that they would never see her grow into a beautiful young woman.
Dr. Attilo Birga, the Chairman of the Heart Center in Ecuador, intervened to help them. Afterward he said, “There is no greater reward than when a child’s parents look you in the eyes and thank you for saving their baby’s life. This is why HBI exists.”
Nine-year-old Hima was prone to frequent bouts of lightheadedness. She was born with a birth defect, a hole between her heart chambers. She was bedridden and desperate for help.
Hima's father searched urgently for answers about her condition, and eventually the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences confirmed that her life was in danger without a pacemaker.
Her father was a photographer with scarce means, and could not afford the cost of the device and surgery. Heartbeat International intervened to help her case, and Dr. Prakash Kamat implanted a pacemaker for free.
Today, Hima is thrilled that she can play with her friends and attend school – things she was unable to do before.
Baby Giovanni was born with a heart rhythm disorder so severe that she had to be returned to the hospital three months after she was born. All traditional treatments failed to ease her symptoms, and the future looked grim. A pacemaker was suggested as their last hope, but the therapy was too expensive for her poor family to afford.
Just before Christmas, Dr. Ernesto Aranguiz met with Giovanni's parents to share a holiday miracle – Heartbeat International had gotten them the device she needed. The baby was treated and released from the hospital on New Year’s Eve – truly a healthy new beginning for the family.
Three years later, the HBI team had the reward of meeting a beautiful curly-haired blur of activity – little Giovanni, grown into a lively and vivacious child.
Diagnosed with Down Syndrome and heart rhythm disease, baby Geraldine needed a pacemaker to save her life. However, her mother was unemployed and could not afford the device and surgery.
She desperately tried to find help for her daughter, and one lucky day a social worker put her in contact with Heartbeat International's Heart Center in Mexico. Shortly thereafter, Geraldine was treated and doing well.
“When she was born, we thought we were going to lose her. It was just so painful because for us she was a little angel arriving into our lives,” said Geraldine’s mother. “The reward is seeing her alive – and it’s thanks to Heartbeat International who donated the pacemaker.”
Last month Baby Keila’s life changed when the one-month-old girl received a BIOTRONIK pacemaker through The Heartbeat International Foundation’s Pacemaker Program in Honduras. The Heartbeat International Foundation’s Pacemaker Program provides donated pacemakers and ICDs to a network of Heart Centers for patients in medical and economic need. BIOTRONIK is proud to partner with The Heartbeat International Foundation to help ensure patients throughout the world have access to lifesaving cardiac devices. To date, BIOTRONIK has donated more than 7,000 pacemakers and ICDs to the foundation.