HCA Healthcare hospital, surgeon gifts life-saving treatment for Mongolian child

Baby with teddy bear

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, part of HCA Healthcare’s Continental Division and the HealthONE system, was the center of inspirational local and national media coverage recently as a result of vital surgery they provided at no cost for Sarana B., a 10-month old child from Mongolia.

Woman holding baby in her lap in airplane seat

Sarana was diagnosed during infancy with a large Ventricular Septal Defect, a congenital, and likely fatal, heart condition that was not treatable in her home country.

Following a careful selection process by Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project, a nonprofit organization that arranges life-saving operations for children in need around the world, Sarana, her mother Naragarav, and a translator, Munkhtul, traveled over 6,000 miles from their home in Mongolia to Denver, Colorado for treatment by Dr. Steven Leonard, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at RMHC. During their travels, they were accompanied by Karen Hill, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at RMHC who served as a medical escort assisting them as they made their way through three flights and airport customs.
Five adults and a baby at an airport with a welcome sign
Upon arrival in Denver (and after more than 20 hours of travel), Sarana, Naragarav, Munkhtul, and Karen were greeted by HealthONE board member and host family, Brian Pauls and his wife Diane. In this beautiful show of community support, Brian, also a board member for Samaritan’s Purse, opened his home to Sarana, Naragarav, and Munkhtul. From pre-op through surgery and recovery, the Pauls provided for any and all transportation needs and ensured that Sarana, her mom and translator always felt welcome and received caring attention during their stay.

Sarana’s 5-hour surgery was on Thursday, August 2 and was executed just as Dr. Leonard planned. Six days post-op, Sarana was released back to the Pauls’ home. Dr. Leonard indicated that the surgery he performed is considered curative and that Sarana will now be able to live a normal life.

Sarana will be in Denver until early September when she will return back home to live with her father, mother, grandmother and two siblings in their home in Mongolia.  Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has been honored to care for Sarana and eager to continue engagement through Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project.

Watch Dr. Leonard and Karen Hill on CNN’s Headline News as they talk about bringing Sarana to the United States and the procedure that saved her life. (HCA Healthcare internal audience can view the video here.)

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