How 5 heart surgery patients risked their lives in order to save their lives

Patients from Haiti receive life-saving surgery at Baylor Scott & White Heart Hospital in Plano

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At Baylor Scott & White's Heart Hospital in Plano, five patients recently came a long way for life-saving surgeries.

The hospital partners with a charity called Haiti Cardiac Alliance to bring some of the most vulnerable heart patients to Plano several times a year, for care they can't find in their country.

“Without surgical intervention, many of them would not see 45 years of age," said Dr. David Moore, a cardiovascular surgeon with BSW.

So far, Moore said they've operated on 40 patients.

The most recent group, however, is unique: They're the first ones to make it here since political unrest broke out in Haiti.

Alexandra Michaud said they face guns, gangs, and kidnapping back home.

The group had to travel to northern Haiti to fly out.

"I’m ready to take the risk for my life. Because if I don’t do it now, maybe never," Michaud said, speaking through a translator, Steeven Andre.

Michaud needed a new heart valve.

“I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t do my daily activities because I would be shortness of breath every time," she said. "I would've died."

Another patient, Jean Elio Desgrange, had an unusual problem: Blood was escaping his heart.

"We’ve never seen anything like that," said Dr. Moore.

“Thank God, he can feel the difference right now after the surgery," Andre said, translating for Desgrange.

“If it wasn’t for this hospital and Dr. Moore. I’m young, I don’t know how my life would be without this surgery today," he added, wiping tears from his eyes.

Moore said he and other doctors started the surgeries in May, and the group is scheduled to go home in the next week.

“She would like to tell you, Dr. Moore, to continue the good job that you’re doing, because there are a lot of young people like her in Haiti waiting for their turns to come here for the surgery," Michaud said through Andre.

Moore said he hopes to keep patients coming.

“Hopefully patients will continue to be able to get out of Haiti safely and return safely. That’s probably the greatest uncertainty right now," he said.

Moore said he often develops a close relationship with his Haitian patients, inviting them to dinner at his home, and staying in touch via WhatsApp messaging after they leave.

“I recognize that to be a cardiac surgeon gives you a unique skill set," he said.

Moore said in the U.S., there are no more than 2,000 active cardiac surgeons right now.

In Haiti, he said there are none, and with political unrest, no volunteer doctors are going in, either.

“There are patients that are in great need of our services that don’t have access to that kind of care. To be able to do something like that to help an individual who doesn’t have any other options, especially, gives me a great sense of satisfaction," he said.

Although Michaud is worried about the danger she faces back home, she's returning with a healthy heart, filled with new hope.

"When I go home, I will take care of my little boy and then go back to school," she said.

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