Our Stories – Guatemala
In October 1994, Dr. Robert Michler organized the first ever Heart Care International mission trip to Guatemala City, Guatemala. This one-of-a-kind trip fulfilled his vision to provide surgery and medical care to needy infants and children in developing countries born with congenital heart defects. Dr. Michler’s other trip focus was on training the local medical personnel. Dr. Michler did not want to simply help for one week; he wanted to create long-term impact.
Dr. Michler turned to his network of medical colleagues to volunteer their vacation time and staff this trip. At the same time, he and his wife Sally enlisted the help of their church, the Second Congregational Church in Greenwich, CT, for financial and logistical support.
The trip in 1994 involved close to 50 medical professionals and saved the lives of 38 Guatemalan children. The trip also reinforced Dr. Michler’s commitment to fulfilling this vision. Heart Care International was born.
The lasting legacy of Heart Care International in Guatemala is palpable not only through the lives that have been saved during HCI trips. Heart Care International played an integral role in the opening of the first organized surgical unit in Central America to treat children born with congenital heart defects, UNICAR, led by HCI partner Dr. Aldo Castañeda. Today, children suffering from congenital heart defects are treated at this state-of-the-art medical center in their home country. The center is staffed by local Guatemalan medical and technical specialists.