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Lessons Learned in Humanitarian Cardiac Surgery

Novick Cardiac Alliance had the opportunity to attend the 32nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) in Milan Italy in October 2018. Watch the video below of Dr. William Novick and Dr. Marcelo Cardarelli as they discuss “Lessons Learned in Humanitarian Cardiac Surgery.”


Perfusion Without Borders – Scholarship Winner


Each year, the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology offers a scholarship to one Perfusion student to travel on a medical mission trip with an organization of their choice. This year’s winner is perfusion student Amy Evans and she will be traveling with Novick Cardiac Alliance to Ukraine in December 2018.

Amy Evans is currently a second-year cardiovascular perfusion (CVP) student at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She has the privilege of being Class President for the MUSC CVP Class of 2019.

Amy Evans, Perfusion Student, USA

Amy tells us a bit about herself and her passion for pediatric perfusion:

I recently completed my first rotation at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where I discovered my passion for pediatric perfusion. I am currently completing my second rotation at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, MA. Prior to matriculating in the MUSC CVP program, I was a patient care technician on the MUSC Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Unit for three years. I learned more than I could have imagined about the life of a patient, healthcare workers, the health care system and effective collaboration during my time working as a patient care technician.

After completing the MUSC Global Health Certificate Program in May 2015, I had the opportunity to participate in a mission trip to Nicaragua with Palmetto Medical Initiative (now OneWorld Health). While in country, we stayed in El Viejo and traveled via bus to a different rural village each day, providing medical care. The first day we arrived to our clinic venue, I was in utter shock. First, the state of the school was disheartening, a disheveled metal roof covering a dirt floor with various brick walls distinguishing separate classrooms. However, as we drove closer, I saw nearly 150 individuals waiting in the debilitating summer heat, some sitting on the ground, others in dilapidated plastic chairs but all smiling and enthusiastic. This first encounter with the Nicaraguan peoples and countless other interactions reshaped my notion of the meaning of hope. This was a humbling experience in many ways: experiencing a new culture, gaining a new perspective to sustainable healthcare with limited resources, seeing the Lord in new ways, grasping the incredible accomplishments a motivated team can achieve, and a greater appreciation for all aspects of my life. As our team of fifty-one volunteers provided 1,032 Nicaraguans with healthcare in a span of five days, the dire need for healthcare providers was blatantly obvious.

This trip fueled my strong desire to serve on mission trips on a regular basis, which I plan to continue upon graduating from perfusion school.

My passion for cardiovascular perfusion stems from the invigorating responsibility and privilege of a patient to literally entrust their life in your hands, my fascination for human anatomy and physiology as well as the perpetual learning and challenges associated with the profession. I enjoy the challenge of critical thinking, improvisation and the ability of perfusionists to utilize their knowledge to make rapid, calculated adjustments to navigate life-threatening situations.

Cardiovascular perfusion is engrossing and intense, with an enthralling demand for the perfusionist to be prepared for uncertainty.

I am excited to continue learning the technicalities and intricacies of this unique profession, which will continue well beyond my graduation. I am inspired to become an exceptional perfusionist. However, this is more than great clinical practice; it requires a dedication to the profession, continuing education, involvement in national and state organizations, furthering education through mentorship, leadership, and giving back. I have begun delving into these various aspects of perfusion outside of the operating room and am excited for future opportunities to give back to the profession as well as continuing to help cardiac global outreach endeavors through mission work.

Being chosen for the AmSECT Perfusion Without Borders Scholarship is an honor and I plan to take full advantage of every minute of my time in Ukraine. Furthermore, I am grateful to Novick Cardiac Alliance for allowing students the privilege to participate in their mission trips. Ultimately, my tenacious desire for mission work is rooted in the reason I chose to become a perfusionist: to make a difference. Thus, my main goal for the Ukraine mission trip is to help bring quality, life-saving patient care to children in underserved areas that don’t have the privilege of easily accessible healthcare. Another goal for this mission trip is to learn the innovative techniques used by the team, making life-sustaining cardiothoracic surgery possible with limited resources. I am certain this trip will provide an unparalleled learning experience, both personally and professionally. I look forward to sharing my experience in Ukraine with my classmates, younger students, professors, clinical instructors and future colleagues, with hopes they would be inspired to participate in a mission trip too.

Cardiac Alliance is looking forward to having Amy join our team as a perfusion student in Ukraine!

Humanitarian Footprint

Novick Cardiac Alliance has published a research article in JAMA, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association. The article is titled “Cost-effectiveness of Humanitarian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries”. It describes the cost-effectiveness of providing heart surgery to children in developing countries, but it also accounts for the long-term effects at the individual and societal level.

“The Humanitarian Footprint”, as we describe this the long-term effect, is measured in extra years of life expectancy, extra years of schooling and lifetime income potentially added for the patients treated in our global humanitarian interventions.

It turns out that in 2015 alone, there were 16 932 years of Life Expectancy, 1 484 years of schooling and $67 642 191 lifetime income potentially added to the cohort of patients we operated around the world. We always suspected humanitarian pediatric cardiac surgery was doing something good for our patients and the world. Now we have the data!

Read the full article: Humanitarian Footprint



Dr Novick recently was interviewed by RMWorld Travel, America’s #1 Travel Radio Show. RMWorld Travel reaches well over 1 million upscale leisure and business travelers via 375+ affiliated weekly radio stations across the USA, as well as our global 24/7 channel, live streaming, social media, online and more. 

RMWorld Travel says “Since Travel can be more than a  beach vacation or catching a flight to make a business meeting in another city, we invited Dr. Bill Novick to join us during our live broadcast of RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa, for our “Personal Connection” series on 30 June 2018, to share some of his experiences via his travels to provide meaningful impact on kids, families and communities globally, as well as the opportunities for others to do the same.”

Listen to his interview HERE 

You can follow RMWorld Travel on their Facebook page.


Cardiac Alliance Begins Pediatric Cardiac Program in Western Libya

“’In Libya, there are several thousand children that need heart surgery, including hundreds of new-borns’, says Dr. Novick. That is why, with the support of the Presidency Council and the UN’s World Health Organization, Dr. Novick has launched a one-year national program, hoping to treat more than 400 Libyan children’s hearts.”

Read more in this article featuring Cardiac Alliance’s work in Libya, by United Nations journalist Abel Kavanagh.


UNSMIL/Abel Kavanagh

Cardiac Alliance returns to Ecuador


With our trip sponsors With Every Heartbeat, The Fialeny Foundation

Novick Cardiac Alliance worked at Hospital del Nino’s Dr. Francisco Ycaza Bustamante in Guayaquil, Ecuador April 28 – May 12, 2018. This was the first time our team returned to Hospital del Nino since 2014. This trip was made possible by the generous donations from our partners “With Every Heartbeat, the Fialeny Foundation” and support from Ecuadorian charity “Fundacion El Cielo Para Los Ninos.”  Our team consisted of 17 medical volunteers from 12 different centers in the USA and Argentina. 


Over the two week trip, NCA Cardiologist Dr Mark Gellat evaluated nearly 70 children, performing echocardiograms and assessing these children for heart defects. Led by NCA pediatric heart surgeon Dr Marcelo Cardarelli, fifteen children received life-saving heart surgery in 8 days of operation. We were pleased to discover that the local team in Guayaquil had been continuing their education and teaching new staff skills to become more competent in pediatric cardiac care and surgery. The local surgeon Dr Hernan Montero has been operating in the absence of visiting teams and the ICU has been led by Venezuelan Intensivist Ricardo Briceno. Each morning during patient rounds, Dr Briceno quizzes nurses and new doctors about a specific defect or complication in order to expand their critical thinking skills.

The ICU team was led by PICU nurse educators Farzana Shah and Roslyn Rivera. Our ICU physicians and nurses provided 24 hour care for these children before and after surgery the entire two weeks. Many of the children were discharged from the hospital within 48 hours of surgery. The majority of the children we operated during this trip were between 5-12 years old, with simple heart defects that require surgery in order for them to survive into adulthood. These children have been on a waiting list for surgery for several years, but there are not enough surgeons in Ecuador to provide surgery. The babies born with more complex heart defects are often not as lucky. Complex heart defects require early intervention for babies to survive to age one. Our trip to Guayaquil helped enhance the medical skills of the surgeons, doctors, and nurses so they can continue to provide treatment for children with heart disease in their country. 

Milan is a baby with a complex heart defect that requires immediate surgery to survive.

For four months, Milan’s mother watched her baby turned dark blue whenever he would cry. Several times, she took him to the doctor in the village where they live, but the doctor would say that Milan would “grow out of it.” Searching for answers, Milan’s family brought him to the pay-clinic in Guayaquil. There the doctors told her he had a serious problem with his heart and he needed to see the cardiologist at the Bustamante Children’s Hospital. As if by fate, the next day, NCA cardiologist Dr Gellat saw Milan. Just from seeing his blue pale appearance, Dr Gellat knew immediately that Milan did indeed have a complex heart defect. The echocardiogram showed that Milan had pulmonary atresia, meaning blood was not flowing the normal way into his lungs to receive oxygen. His blue color was from severe lack of oxygenated blood. Our team discussed a plan and Milan received surgery to create a pathway for blood to flow to his lungs. 

Milan had a difficult recovery after his surgery, but was doing very well when our team left the country. We have received updates from Milan’s parents that is now home and happily growing. His parents were immensely happy to see their baby boy finally looking well.

It’s babies like Milan that remind us how desperately advanced pediatric cardiac care is needed in developing countries. Our teams strive to educate local teams about pediatric cardiology so that babies like Milan can be properly diagnosed and treated early, and given a chance to survive. 


Novick Cardiac Alliance completed a one month trip in Tobruk, Libya March 25 through April 22 2018. This entire trip was sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over 30 children in Libya received life-saving heart surgery from our team and we helped educate the local Libyan surgeons, doctors and nurses. Cardiac Alliance would especially like to thank Dr Jaffar Hussain, Head of Mission and Country Representative for WHO for his tireless efforts to organize our trip.

Please take a moment and watch this special video recognizing our efforts in Libya with the support of WHO.

Dr Novick featured in Men’s Journal

Journalist Jordan Campbell joined our team on several trips this past year gathering information about Dr. Novick and the mission of Novick Cardiac Alliance. The article is featured in Men’s Journal June 2018 edition.


Volunteer Story – Erin Serrano

PICU nurse Erin Serrano recently joined our team on her first medical mission trip to Ukraine. Erin shares her unique story about why she began her career as a pediatric cardiac nurse and how volunteering with Novick Cardiac Alliance was a dream her entire life.

My journey to pursue a career in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit began the day I was born. Just a few days after birth, I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and underwent multiple cardiac surgeries and procedures to save my life. Volunteering with Novick Cardiac Alliance to help patients and families with similar stories as my own wasn’t a choice, it was something I knew I had to do. It was my destiny. 

Coming to Ukraine and stepping into a healthcare system that I knew nothing about was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. After just a few days, I realized that leaving my comfort zone was more than worth it. From the first day that we arrived at the hospital, I learned just how resourceful the staff members had to be, considering their limited medical supplies, equipment, and medications. Imagine being a parent of a child requiring cardiac surgery and you are responsible for providing part of their medical supplies because the hospital simply cannot obtain enough. I was astounded to see the local nurses using resterilized supplies. These supplies would most certainly be thrown away after one use in the United States. I realize that we take for granted the abundance of simple supplies and they are precious items in developing countries like Ukraine. 

Despite the obvious language barrier that exists, Cardiac Alliance has been successful in educating the Ukrainian medical team in everything from basic ICU care to the most complex cardiac surgeries. To be a part of that education process was the most rewarding part of my trip. 

One out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect and CHD’s are the most common cause of infant death among birth defects. If I have helped just one nurse better their practice while caring for these patients, then I know my time spent was worthwhile. I certainly hope I can volunteer with Cardiac Alliance again and again. Thank you NCA for allowing me to be a part of your incredible mission and to the entire Ukrainian team for teaching me more than I could have ever imagined.