Children’s Heart Project is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that brings children to the U.S. and the Cayman Islands for life-saving heart surgery that is nearly impossible to access in their home countries. In this episode, Kristy Graham traveled to Grand Cayman to meet Pura, Fatima, and Maria—three generations of women who were impacted through the program.
Fatima and her 2-year-old daughter Maria were both diagnosed with a heart defect. In fact, it was Maria’s diagnosis that led Samaritan’s Purse teams to discover that Fatima was suffering from the same problem.
Cindy Bonsall, the director of Children’s Heart Project, shared that as the Samaritan’s Purse staff was conducting the screening in Bolivia, they felt an urgency from the Lord to echo Fatima’s heart alongside her daughter. They discovered that she was also suffering from a very serious heart defect.
Dr. Richard Furman, who has been very influential in building relationships with the local hospital in Grand Cayman and also serves as a board member of Samaritan’s Purse, explained that both Fatima and Maria had a hole between the two chambers of their heart. This meant that blood that should be routed to the lungs was flowing through the hole instead— preventing them from receiving oxygen.
“This baby literally saved her life. Who would've ever guessed that this child would save her life? Because had she not gone to the screening, she would not have survived more than a few more years.” – Cindy Bonsall
Fatima shared how scary this was for her as a mom, but she pushed past the fear because she wanted Maria to have a healthy life. They both received heart surgery on the same day—a first in the program’s 25-year history. Just days after their surgery, both Fatima and Maria were already feeling better.
“I am breathing differently. I don't get tired so much as before the surgery. I'm still recovering, but I feel like I'm getting stronger.” – Fatima
Kristy also interviewed Alma, a member of the local church in Grand Cayman that helped host this family. She explained how she witnessed their family’s bond strengthen throughout their time on the island. Fatima’s own mother, Pura, joined them on the journey to help care for her daughter and granddaughter.
During their time in the Cayman Islands, Pura and Fatima heard the Gospel. Before being accepted for surgery with Samaritan’s Purse, they knew about God, but they did not know that they could have a personal relationship with Him. Fatima shared how she felt peace knowing she would never be alone again because God is always with her.
“They truly had a twinkle in their eye when they talked about Jesus.” – Kristy Graham
Children’s Heart Project is not only an opportunity for children to receive life-saving heart surgery, but it is also an opportunity for them to experience true healing as they are introduced to Jesus Christ.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-6, NIV)
Kristy Graham traveled to the Cayman Islands to meet three generations of women whose lives were changed through Children’s Heart Project. A mother and her daughter were both diagnosed with the exact same heart defect, and they received surgery on the same day. In more than 25 years of this program, there has never been a story quite like this.