Journey of the Heart

Armed with her camera, curiosity, and compassion, photojournalist Amie Vanderford joined a medical mission to document the work of a Memphis philanthropy.

photography by Amie Vanderford

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As a photographer who seeks inspiring stories of people who make a difference here and around the world, I could not have chosen a better opportunity than the one I was offered recently: Traveling to Honduras with a Memphis-based organization that saves children’s lives on its global missions. Not only did I get to meet and photograph some remarkable professionals as they worked to repair damaged hearts, I came to know and appreciate the children and their families who benefited from this philanthropic endeavor.

Since 1993, the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), founded in Memphis by pediatric heart surgeon Dr. William Novick, has provided heart surgeries for more than 6,300 children in more than 30 countries worldwide. Approximately one in every 100 children born in the world will have a heart defect, and many won’t see their first birthday due to congenital heart disease.

The primary mission of the ICHF is to assemble medical teams in order to diagnose and treat children with congenital heart disease in developing countries that request help, and secondarily, to train local medical staff to build their own pediatric cardiac surgery programs. Missions are funded through in-kind and monetary donations, and medical professionals also donate their time and expertise.


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