More than twenty-five years ago Federico Alfaro, MD, a Guatemalan physician, was treating a seventeen-year-old patient. The boy had a heart condition cardiologists refer to as “heart block”, an affliction in which the heartbeat continually slows until one day the heart just stops pumping. The boy's condition was curable. The problem was he was poor. Dr. Alfaro tried desperately to find financial assistance to provide the boy with the pacemaker he needed. But in the end he had to watch the boy die. He swore another countryman would not die because they could not afford a pacemaker.
A mission was born.
Dr. Alfaro is now the Dean of the Medical School at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. He is also the honorary director of Heartbeat International.
Now Heartbeat International works in 13 countries and has saved more than 10,000 lives.