Organized in 2011, Fundahigado América seeks to train healthcare professionals and aid pediatric liver patients who can´t find survival opportunities in their home-countries. Mikhael Iglesias, FHA´s psychologist, says the organization goes beyond a liver transplant surgery; Fundahigado America aims to provide access to complex medical services to underserved areas in Latin America and the Caribbean where low-income families are in need.
Currently in Latin American there is a great number of pediatric liver patients that do not have the necessary means to undergo a liver transplant, nor to receive medical treatment for the disease. In order to solve this, we need well-trained health professionals and a top infrastructure system that can guarantee timely and suitable treatments for these patients that wish to live.
Back in 2004, The Metropolitan Liver Transplant Program, Fundahígado was already functioning in Caracas, Venezuela, making liver transplant a real possibility within the country.
Parallel to the work that was carried out in Venezuela, Dr. Tomoaki Kato, current Vice-President of Fundahígado América, received a Venezuelan patient who needed liver transplantation in the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. This happened around 2006 and the Venezuelan patient was referred back to Venezuela by Dr. Kato. Turns out he was completely unaware of such possibility in his home country.
After this case, Dr. Kato sought a way to contact Dr. Pedro Rivas Vetencourt, current President of Fundahígado América.
A little while later, both doctors met in Venezuela. Dr. Rivas and Dr. Kato created a strong bond, which eventually led them to think how to replicate the Venezuelan project in every country in Latin America and offer this liver transplant option to pediatric patients.
This is how Fundahígado América was born.
An attainable alternative for low-income patients
Fundahigado America is a non-profit international, 501c3 organization formed in 2011. It aims to provide access and social development to undeveloped countries.
Both FHA President, Dr. Rivas and FHA Vice-President, Dr. Kato, along with the team of professionals that work in this institution believe the life of every child matters: “Those who suffer these diseases also have the right to quality medical service that can properly address their situation”, says Mikhael Iglesias. He continues: “Fundahigado America aims to provide access to this service through education and training of local medical staff in Latin America and the Caribbean countries where pediatric transplant is not an option.”
This institution, created with education and scientific purposes- aims to educate and train medical doctors for pediatric liver patients where liver transplant is not an option “We can guarantee sustainability by training local medical physicians in local facilities. It is a long-term project”- says Mikhael.
Fundahígado América, besides training health professionals, also intends to help pediatric liver patients to undergo a liver transplant and receive proper post-operative care. The foundation is also responsible for providing the necessary consultancy in order to identify suitable hospitals where such a complex program could be implemented.
It will help and provide direction in the training of multidisciplinary teams that will attend, evaluate and make follow-up guidance of every patient. This will ease the evaluation and protocol management, which will guarantee the success of this medical therapy.
More transplant facilities in the future
FHA´s work is complex. The foundation intends to implement pediatric liver transplant in at least countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is expected that, once this health centers are established, we can save many children´s lives.
The organization seeks financial support from the public in general and from other organizations. These contributions can help to implement the programs that train the staff and medical specialists in different countries in Latin America and thus, carry out more liver transplants in a successful way.