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Open Heart International

ABOUT US

HOW DID IT START

Open Heart International is a volunteer driven organisation. It was established in 1985 by Mr. Russell Lee, Mr. Rudi Morgan and Dr. John Wallace as volunteers, who all worked for Sydney Adventist Hospital at the time.

The history of Sydney Adventist Hospital (or the "San" as it is affectionately known) is rich with stories of “San” educated healthcare professionals individually volunteering to help the disadvantaged and medically challenged around the world.

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The genesis of Open Heart International was in Intensive Care Nurse Russell Lee,
and his visit to Tonga to see his missionary parents.

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Horrified by the lack of surgical options for those dying of rheumatic heart disease, Russell returned to Australia determined to make a difference.

It was from this desire to make a difference in Tonga that led to the "Operation Open Heart for Tonga", by the three men.

By 1986 they had succeeded in fundraising, the acquisition of equipment, and the coordination of a small group of hospital medical and nursing staff. The team travelled to Tonga to provide life saving cardiac surgery, and saving the lives of patients that would have readily received surgery if they lived in Australia.

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Today, hundreds of volunteers with extraordinary passion and commitment, give freely of their time and expertise in multiple surgical specialties to provide hope to thousands living in developing countries. These patients dream of the quality healthcare that we sometimes take for granted here in Australia.

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Open Heart International now has projects in 6 different specialties - cardiac, women's health, burns surgery, orthopaedic, eye surgery and primary health. With the help of our wonderful supporters and volunteers, we have been able to implement projects in 13 different countries, and transform the lives of in excess of 4000 patients.

Most importantly, each team now trains local medical and nursing staff, with the aim that these countries may gain self-sufficiency sometime in the future.

Despite the travel and freight costs, it is more cost effective to provide surgery in developing countries rather than bring patients to Australia for surgery. By working in developing countries, we also leave behind skills and knowledge that have been imparted to the healthcare professionals we work with in each country.