The Fundahígado America program began after an unexpected coincidence between two specialists who decided to join their knowledge, strength and will to help others to create something huge, that could save lives.
It all took place in the year 2004 at Dr. Tomoaki Kato’s office in Miami, when a Venezuelan family knocked on his door, worried about their little one’s health. This family was on vacation in the United States when Dr. Kato informed them they had to perform an emergency liver transplant on their son.
These news troubled the boy’s parents, especially after realizing they could not pay the high cost of the operation. The doctor saw an opportunity to save the little boy’s life and supported the family with everything he could.
Kato decided to change the boy’s fate by reaching Venezuela’s top specialist and asking to see him.
One telephone call from the United States was Dr. Kato’s first contact with Dr. Pedro Rivas Vetencourt, president of Fundahígado Venezuela, (a non-profit organization dedicated to managing the Metropolitan Liver Transplantation Program), who instantly approved the patient’s transfer to Caracas, Venezuela.
On April 19th 2005 these specialists met formally in Caracas, where they joined forces to perform a surgery that initially appeared complicated, but with their combined skills they were able to finish successfully after using a technique that allowed the extraction of a portion of healthy liver from a live patient, with 100% success for the donor and the recipient.
This liaison was very important for pediatrics in the South American country, this advance was because of a child they now call “little angel” who knocked on Dr. Kato’s door and became the main character of this achievement.
After Fundahígado Venezuela’s success, these doctors joined an incredible group of experts on health and philanthropy and decided to replicate their program in the rest of the world and where this type of service is needed.
They returned to the place where it all began. In the United States, the journey was not easy, there where highs and lows that made it hard but since there was nothing that could stand in the way of these specialists, they were able to implement Fundahígado America in Virginia on the year 2011.
From this moment on, they have made their message and work known in order to project towards new places in Latin America and the Caribbean. The objective of this journey has maintained itself throughout the years: “to develop educational programs that help train specialists in the area of hepatic transplantation in their own countries.”
Fundahígado America has left its mark on countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Peru. Each one of them has been a new experience and they have received the doctors with open arms, elevating the hope for a more promising future for the program as well as for the people of these nations.
Fundahígado Venezuela and Fundahígado America have not ceased to receive new people who are hopeful for a better future, be it patients or future colleagues who are helping to keep the Foundation’s goal alive, by collaborating towards keeping these two specialists’ dream strong for everyone who knocks on Fundahígado’s door.
If you wish to learn more about the Foundation, our educational program or to contribute to our cause, visit our official webpage or follow our social media accounts @Fundahigadoamerica on Facebook and Instagram and @fundahigadoamer on Twitter.
Help us to continue to bring hope to children in Latin America and the Caribbean.