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.

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Parents line up with children seeking help for ailing hearts.

The group that I accompanied — on this 18th trip to Honduras since ICHF first went there in 2008 — consisted of two surgeons, a perfusionist, an anesthesiologist, three cardiologists, two intensivists, a respiratory therapist, seven pediatric ICU nurses, a pre-med student, a medical student, and a biomedical engineer. We hailed from the United States, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Nicaragua, and Chile.

We arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on a Saturday, and work began that Sunday. Already a long line of patients had formed, many having traveled as long as 10 hours for help. That first day, professionals examined more than 20 children and over the two weeks of our visit, 116 were evaluated.

My good fortune was to rotate from the pediatrics ward to the operating room to the pediatric ICU — and to photograph the amazing achievements in each. Among these was a surgical procedure called an atrial septal defect (ASD) closure, a repair to a hole between the heart’s two upper chambers. I felt privileged enough to see a human heart up close, but capturing the surgeons in action as they repaired the problem was one of the most fascinating experiences of my career.


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