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New York Doctors Save Boy, 9, From Honduras With Serious Heart Defect

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York doctors recently saved a young boy's life after he was diagnosed with a serious heart defect.

Project Kids Worldwide brought the nine-year-old child from Honduras to New York City for open heart surgery.

Abdi Avisai is from Honduras where he was growing up just fine until he started having trouble playing his beloved sport, soccer. That led to the surprising diagnosis of a hole in his heart.

Doctors in Honduras couldn't repair it, but surgeons at NYU Langone could.

Taking an initial look at the scan of the heart and you would think it was a scan of a fire, not the heart of a young boy. The fiery colors indicate blood flow, but in this case it is flowing in the wrong direction. That's because there's a hole where a wall should be between the upper heart chambers, the atria.

"The challenge for the heart to deal with volume overload, so it's extra flow to the right side, the right side dilated it can develop arrhythmia's and irregular heart rate and ultimately changes in the lungs and the right sided heart failure," said Dr. Achi Ludomirsky from NYU Langone Health.

Abdi's mother said three years ago doctors in Honduras found a heart murmur while doing a routine checkup, but that until recently, he seemed fine.

She said that Abdi's normally high grades started dropping and that he complained of dizziness and feeling shaky. Abdi also started having memory problems, likely because his brain just wasn't getting enough oxygenated blood.

That's where Project Kids Worldwide stepped in, a non-profit organization founded by the late Dr. Stephen Colvin and continued by his widow, Helane. It brings kids who need life saving heart surgery to the Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone providing and covering visas, transportation, housing, meals and medical and surgical costs.

Dr. Ralph Mosca is the pediatric heart surgeon who donated his services to close the hole in Abdi's heart.

"What we did was, using the bypass machine, close that hole by using some of the tissue from around his hear, the pericardial sac, so we actually fashioned a patch out of it and then sewed it to the edge of the defect," said Mosca.

And just 10 days after his surgery, Abdi is doing beautifully. His chest incision is healing nicely and he's already gaining weight.

Less than a month after his surgery he's back home in Honduras, happy and healthy.

Abdi said this whole experience has made him want to become a doctor. His mom wants to thank NYU and Project Kids Worldwide for giving her son the chance to fulfill that dream.

The patched hole in Abdi's heart will be covered with normal tissue and his heart will grow normally.

For more information on Project Kids Worldwide, contact Helane Colvin at or visit the organization's website.

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