An Aspiring Doctor Dreams to Make a Difference

When I was interning at NASA, I met Tanaya. She told me that she was going to Mount Everest for a fundraiser. Unsure of what the fundraiser was, I quickly learned that this was a very worthwhile endeavor, the Tanzania Heart Babies Project. The reason why I was interested was two-fold. Not only was I able to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the tallest mountain in the world, I was also able to do that with students who were passionate about helping some of the poorest children in the world receive a new life. I felt like I simultaneously received a new lease a life while directly contributing to the lives of others. What else, I was able to watch on video as these children prepared for their heart surgery in India. As an aspiring doctor, I plan to carry this delicate respect for others with me when I become a surgeon. Perhaps one day I will get to experience first hand what it is like to save a child's life.

I was also able to write an independent research paper that I plan to publish soon (see below).

I. Introduction

In May 2014, just days after the deadliest avalanche on Mount Everest, a group of 12 students from across the world began an ascent to Everest Base Camp for the Tanzania Heart Babies Project. Mean diastolic and systolic blood pressure, oxygen saturation, perfusion index and pulse rate were analyzed during the ascent for two groups: 12 students between the ages of 19-22, and 3 sherpas between the ages of 30-44.

II. Methods

One portable pulse oximeter and one blood pressure cuff were carried during the trek. 30 minutes after dinner each evening, expedition members received a small check-up, consisting of a health status chat and an analysis of their physiological progress. Team members were monitored for their blood pressure (mmHg), oxygen saturation (%), perfusion index (arterial pulse signal strength), and pulse rate (bpm). Sherpas were not monitored for their blood pressure. At the end of the trek, team members were assessed for their overall physical well-being, exercise habits before the trek, and body mass index (BMI).

III. Results

Prior to summiting, the sherpas showed a smaller decrease in their mean oxygen saturation compared to the team members. (Figure 5: Sherpa vs. Team Member Oxygen Saturation). For the majority of the trek, sherpas showed a lower mean pulse rate compared to the team members (Figure 6: Sherpa vs. Team Member Pulse Rate). Perfusion index did not show any recognizable trends (Figure 7: Sherpa vs. Team Member Perfusion Index). The team member’s mean systolic blood pressure slightly decreased and diastolic blood pressure slightly increased prior to summiting. These last results will undergo further analysis.

-Stefan Djordjevic

March 14th- The Big Day!

"I am excited for the CWE Symposium to bring together a large and diverse group of students on campus/outside campus discussing and finding solutions to issues concerning child health and development. This is in many ways what we strive for doing in THBP as well, and I am excited to get new input and ideas that can help our project grow! What excites me the most about working with THBP is the diversity of our project that includes individuals from all across the world. I believe such collaboration and commitment from a variety of different individuals will help facilitating support and initiative helping the empowerment of children in developing countries. I am excited to see how far this can take us, and it is really great to see how little one needs to do in order to create change in someone's life! We just need to embrace the fact that we can all do something if we really want to and put effort into doing so. CWE Symposium is a great way of creating awareness and hopefully we will meet new people who are willing to donate or contribute in other ways towards our project!"

- Amanda Gran

Why CWE Symposium?

"At the beginning of this year, I joined Tanzania Heart Babies Project as a member and now, I’m currently VP External. The fact that the club focuses on raising funds to sponsor operations for Tanzanian babies born with congenital heart disease further encouraged me to promote this cause due to its intentions on improving children’s lives. What motivates me the most about being part of such a keen and active group of individuals is the synergy sparked by the team when planning events and activities in order to raise awareness for Tanzanian babies.

The past term we conducted various successful events such as the “Hakuna Matata Coffee House” and contributed as charity on focus for several occasions. And now, the time has come to share with the UBC community why we support this cause through the Child Welfare and Empowerment Symposium this 14th of March. What excites me the most about this conference is the collaborations we’ll have with different clubs on campus such as Operation Smile, UBC Free the Children and Turkish Student Society. We’ll hold a series of workshops to further develop the theme of child development and to unite the most important values each club represents to motivate the UBC community into contributing to the different causes. "

-Isabel Vidri

The President's Words

"I have always been fascinated by philanthropy and community service; the mere desire to play a role in positively impacting the lives of others is something my parents sought to inspire within me, at a very young age. Today, I thank God for making it possible for me to work with Tanzania Heart Babies Project, a student-led initiative that is truly passionate about transforming the lives of these children by sponsoring their very urgent cardiac surgeries conducted in India.

Many say that necessity is the mother of invention; while that is true in many cases, especially the private sector, I fear that not much is being done for the world’s least privileged, those who need innovation, creativity and problem-solving more than all of us. Hence, I maintain that a lens that is blind to our children’s survival is itself impoverished. God has given us two hands, one to help ourselves, and the other, to be of service to others. This is why I joined Tanzania Heart Babies Project, and my heart has never been happier, since I’m confident that the effort my team makes contributes immensely to developing a favorable, brighter and more secure reality for impacted families.

Leadership is about bringing forward tangible hope towards a people, and persevering in the art of creating a better and brighter reality, regardless of the obstacles and challenges placed on one’s path. This ideal is what THBP truly stands by and I’m excited for the upcoming Child Welfare and Empowerment (CWE) Symposium. The CWE will expose UBC students and other attendees to the dialogic process of critically analyzing the parasitic issues sucking the blood out of the efforts put in place to promote child development, healthcare and education. In addition, CWE attendees will participate in workshops that will explore potential solutions that can be implemented by student leaders like ourselves, contributing to various humanitarian and community service projects. I am indeed excited about Tanzania Heart Babies Project’s collaboration with Operation Smile, Free the Children and the Turkish Student Association.

So, make sure you join us in the Global Lounge on March 14th, it is going to be a fantastic conference, and we would love to share and learn with you.
Karibuni! Welcome!"

Ruddy Ndina

The Ultimate THBP Experience!

"My first encounter with the Tanzania Heart Babies Project came in first year, while I was living in Vanier.  Then co-president, Anne-Sophie Deman walked through our hall with a box of mountainous cupcakes. Really, these things were glorious. She had somehow gotten them donated from a bakery on Broadway, and was selling them to raise money for the project.

I remember thinking, cupcakes? Really? How can that possibly contribute to funding life saving surgeries of children halfway across the world? It seemed naïve, and fruitless. But I would soon come to realize that this girl, along with all of the other members of the THBP team, didn’t stop at cupcakes.

Around the end of first year Anne-Sophie told me about the team’s plan to couple a fundraiser with a trek to Everest Base Camp. She asked if I would be interested in joining. “Sure, why not,” I said, thinking it would never actually materialize. Yeah, well I probably should have realized that these guys wouldn’t propose ideas they didn’t fully intend to carry through.

So one year later I found myself sitting on the Kathmandu Airport runway waiting to board a ten-seater deathtrap to take us to one of the most dangerous airports in the world, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport, literally built into the side of a cliff.  What’s more insane though, is that by the time we boarded this flight, enough money had been raised to fun the surgeries of ten children. That’s ten real lives, being saved, because of a bunch of nineteen-year olds, who started with cupcakes.

Of course, it’s fair to say that these nineteen year olds are not your typical first year university students. Not to say that they don’t have fun (believe me, they do) but the energy and passion behind their drive is unique. Its something I haven’t seen in many people my age, and its visible even on the most miserable of days.

I remember arriving at the final village (and by village I mean, two medium sized tea houses) before base-camp day. We got there earlier than expected, around eleven AM. This village sat at the bottom of Kala Patthar, a “small” mountain, which peaked at 5,600 meters. Part of our plans were to spend one day doing Kala Patthar, where the views of Everest are spectacular, and the next Base Camp before heading back down.

Well at this point, our heads were pounding, lungs screaming, bowels very, very unhappy, and not to mention many of us had come down with a nasty cold that made everything ten times more difficult. I remember joking to some people, “Ha yeah, lets go for a quick climb up Kala Patthar after lunch, we’ve got time”.

Again, as has come to be a common trend in my life, I should have realized, this was exactly what these guys were planning to do. They got together, Kunal Sethi- co founder- being the driving force behind this plan, and proposed it to our guide after lunch, arguing that the weather was fine, and we’d have a clear view of Everest before dark.

And so, two hours later I found myself nearing the top of Kala Patthar, positive I was about to throw up, or pass out (or both). Regardless of mine, or anyone else’s misery, the team was constantly supporting each other with, “we’re almost there, we can do it” and other words of encouragement. Luckily, I did not vomit or pass out, and soon we found ourselves feeling very little and looking out at the most incredible view I have ever seen, and likely ever will see.

Though my experience with the project has mostly been that of a cupcake purchaser and a tagalong, I still feel incredibly grateful to have played a small role in this incredible thing. I still don’t really understand how they managed to raise such funds, but I am no longer surprised by it. I will not be surprised by anything this team does. And now the team has grown, and spread, and the positive forces behind it, who I have come to be best friends with and respect, are entirely responsible for jump starting the whole thing. "

- Johannah Cramer