27.05.2015 - News

Miss Switzerland’s commitment to helping children with heart disease

A solidarity chain

Little 7-year-old Chahida suffers from a heart disorder. She was identified by the Tdh team that tours through remote villages in Morocco to diagnose disadvantaged children who need medical assistance for heart problems. Together with her family, she had to travel for two days to get to the Children’s Hospital in Rabat to be examined. As they did not have the appropriate equipment available for her surgery, the doctors there decided to transfer Chahida to Switzerland so she could receive the required treatment. It was in Rabat that she met Laetitia Guarino.

Open-heart surgery

As part of the Terre des hommes’ specialized care project in Morocco, the Children’s Hospital in Rabat regularly treats poor children suffering from cardiac disorders. Laetitia Guarino got the opportunity to be present during a heart operation during her visit. Alexander Kadner, a paediatric heart surgeon from the Inselspital (Berne University Hospital) who was working there at the time, asked his Moroccan colleagues to let the medical student participate. As goodwill ambassador for the Corelina Foundation, Laetitia Guarino supports the Inselspital and its collaboration with Terre des hommes. However, not every child can be operated on in Morocco.

The journey to Switzerland

The most beautiful woman in Switzerland took little Chahida under her wing and stayed with her for the entire journey to Switzerland, which was made possible thanks to Aviation Without Borders. Parting from their daughter was terribly hard for her parents, but the little Moroccan girl was soon cheered up again during her first flight as she and Laetitia had fun playing together and drawing. She was even allowed to do her new friend’s hair. In Geneva, Tdh volunteer helpers took over to take Chahida to hospital, where her operation was a success. She is now convalescing at “La Maison” in Massongex so she can recover completely before going home to her family. Laetitia Guarino is pursuing her involvement to help children with heart disorders. “I was really touched by the full commitment of the Terre des hommes team and I’m looking forward to completing my studies, so I’ll be able to help even more!”, said the Corelina goodwill ambassador.

Click here for the photo gallery.

You can read the whole account of Miss Switzerland and Chahida in the Schweizer Illustrierte and its online version (in German) and in the next edition of our magazine Courage.

Terre des hommes brings about positive change to the everyday lives of more than two million children and their families every year. Learn more about our projects in Morocco and about our specialised care projets.

Read more:

Specialised care: Which child can be operated?

The patient who became a doctor

Benin: 59 children operated in the new pediatric surgical facility