Most, if not all, non-profit organizations start with one pivotal moment in someone’s personal story. A need is identified and if the right person is in the right place, at the right time, with the right heart, that need gets met.
Have a Heart Cayman Islands’ story begins with a moment like this almost twenty years ago in India. A young businessman was walking the halls of a large hospital in Manipal, while waiting for news of his father’s emergency heart surgery. He knew one of the world’s most famous heart surgeons, Dr. Devi Shetty, the doctor who had been Mother Teresa’s personal physician, was performing the surgery; so he had faith as he walked.
The man literally bumped into a Canadian woman named Maureen Berlin. As they started talking, she told him she had a small office at the bottom of the hospital where she worked as a volunteer. She used her time to raise money for children who could not afford heart surgeries. Inspired by her story, the man immediately committed to funding four children’s surgeries, and told her he would be back.
Four months and many pivotal moments later, the man, along with several other like-minded people, joined forces with Manohar Chatlani, who was already known for his free medical clinic in India, and Have a Heart Cayman Islands India was born. Since then, Dr. Devi Shetty, and the man whose father he had saved, Harry Chandi, and countless others, have worked together to deliver free or greatly subsidized life-saving heart surgeries to more than 8000 Indian children who could not have afforded them otherwise.
Buoyed by their success and convinced the model they’d built could translate globally, Dr. Shetty and Harry Chandi brought developer Gene Thompson and several government officials together on a tiny Caribbean Island with the goal of building a world class, state of the art tertiary care hospital. A remarkably short 12-months after its ground breaking ceremony, Health City Cayman Islands opened its doors and Have a Heart Cayman Islands was formed.
In the 18-months that have followed, companies and organizations like Digicel, the Haiti Cardiac Alliance, The World Paediatric Project, Rotary Club Grand Cayman and Rotary International, along with generous private contributors, have partnered with Have a Heart Cayman Islands and Health City Cayman Islands to provide surgeries that have made it possible for little hearts to continue beating. 36 children were treated during the first 18 months, and the number continues to grow.
Moving forward, Have a Heart Cayman Islands’ goal is to help 100 otherwise ill-fated children and their families find hope and healing within the walls of Health City Cayman Islands each year.