Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2008; 56(4): 205-209
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1038350
Original Cardiovascular

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Ten Years after the Initiation of Congenital Heart Surgery in Guatemala: Observations after a One Year Fellowship in the Pediatric Cardiac Unit in a Low Income Country

R. Wattenwyl1 , 2
  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2Pediatria, Unidad de Cirugia Cardiovascular de Guatemala, Guatemala, Guatemala
Further Information

Publication History

received October 18, 2007

Publication Date:
15 May 2008 (online)


High-tech medicine in a low income country remains a controversial issue. In September 1997, a congenital heart surgery program was initiated in Guatemala by Aldo Castañeda, emeritus Harvard Professor of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the Children's Hospital Boston. He trained 3 young pediatric cardiac surgeons and in addition assembled a team of pediatric cardiologists, intensivists, anesthesiologists, nurses and the necessary technical staff to develop a pediatric cardiac program in Guatemala. Faced with limited governmental financial support, he set up the Aldo Castañeda Foundation to ensure sustainability of the program. Now, 10 years after the initiation of this program, the pediatric cardiovascular unit (UNICARP) offers diagnosis as well as medical and surgical therapy to children born with a congenital heart malformation in Guatemala and neighboring countries. In addition, UNICARP offers training opportunities for young surgeons from abroad. The experience of one such trainee from Switzerland is highlighted in this report.


Dr. Robert von Wattenwyl

University Hospital Basel
Division of Cardiovascular Surgery

Spitalstraße 21

4031 Basel