This story is like a finely woven tapestry. The details could not be more individual, far-flung or unusual, yet they come together in seamless fashion to create a big picture that shows us several people, cultures and scenes from distant lands. Here are the details: was born in Mongolia in February 2005. He was found to have a fatal heart defect known as Transposition of the Great Arteries, which if left untreated, would surely kill him before he was 3 months old. He needed immediate help that was not available to him in his remote corner of the world. Thankfully, his uncle, Soyola Baasan, living in California, had access to the Internet and a wide world of potential medical assistance. He sent almost 1,000 e-mails to people and institutions around the globe that he thought might help, but received only two responses. One of these was from Dr. Evan Garfein, who as God would have it, possessed the heart and spirit to help as well as the right contacts to cardiac surgeons who could do the job. Dr. Garfein immediately contacted Dr. Pedro del Nido, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, who said he and his team would perform the surgery at no cost if he could view the baby’s echocardiogram and confirm the diagnosis. Mailing the films from Mongolia to Boston would have caused potentially fatal time delays, and after many phone calls a television station in Mongolia agreed to upload the baby’s heart video onto their web site where it could be instantly viewed and confirmed by Dr. del Nido. The diagnosis was corroborated, but the clock was ticking and two large obstacles still remained.
The First, getting the baby and his mother to Boston, seemed a financial impossibility when Samaritan’s Purse, a charitable organization, offered to pay for the family’s travel expenses. With additional support from MDLinx.com (an internet company co-founded by Dr. Garfein) the travel plans were made.
Secondly, although the surgeon had volunteered his time and efforts, there remained substantial hospital fees to be taken care of. Zahira Haram, the International Patient Representative at Children’s Hospital, put Dr. Garfein in touch with The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation. Within 12 hours, the Foundation had made its commitment to pay for almost $78,000 in hospital costs and soon, baby Tengis and his mother were on their way to Boston.
They arrived late on March 13, and less than 24 hours later the infant underwent the arterial switch procedure that would save his life.
He recovered so well from the surgery that he was released from the hospital only 5 days later and returned to Mongolia shortly thereafter. The picture above, taken only 5 months after his life-saving surgery, is proof of the miracle that happened because a group of people cared and were willing to help.