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In style, heart surgeons giving hope

Honoree Jean Shafiroff at Surgeons of Hope Gala, New York City, interviewed by Examiners Tracey Fitzpatrick
Honoree Jean Shafiroff at Surgeons of Hope Gala, New York City, interviewed by Examiners Tracey Fitzpatrick
Photo credit: Katja Maas

How is this for a fashion statement; Surgeons of Hope donate their time to cure children with heart defects. What could be more stylish? Ok, how about philanthropist and style icon, Jean Shafiroff, who was being honored by this visionary non-profit organization.

The annual fundraiser took place Sunday evening at Brasserie Ruhlmann in New York City. At the helm was Master Chef Laurent Tourondel. " We donated the restaurant tonight for this very good cause. I was touched deeply by children who needed to be treated for heart disease, and wanted to help and participate."

The Surgeons of Hope Foundation (SoH) started its mission in 2008 in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Since its inception, nearly 500 children with heart disease or defects have been treated and cured. President of SoH, Dr. Eduardo M. da Cruz, talked with me about the foundation's goals. "We don't want to be thought of as medical tourism. We want to teach the local teams in Latin America how to perform the operations and to become self sufficient and independent. We hope to leave a lasting legacy for this remote region of Nicaragua, and then, hopefully move on to other underserved areas where children need us."

According to Executive Director Charles-Edouard Catherine, meeting those needs comes with a hefty price tag. "When children had to be flown to the U.S. for these heart procedures it would cost about $100,000 dollars. Doing them in Nicaragua, we can perform them for around $5,000 dollars. The costs are all picked up by our foundation, so families do not have to pay anything."

Honoree and supporter, Jean Shafiroff, was stunning in Oscar de la Renta, a nod to her favorite Latin American designer. She discussed her involvement with the foundation. "I have seen the conditions in developing countries and it is so important that we help our fellow neighbors. We are very fortunate here to be in a position to give back in either time, resources, or both." Also honored with Shafiroff was Kevin Hughes, Clinical Cardiovascular Specialist for Edwards Lifesciences, the leading manufacturer of heart valves.

So, if you need a makeover, get involved with Surgeons of Hope for the ultimate feel good treatment; "dedicated to creating a world in which every infant and child with a damaged heart has equal opportunity to receive lifesaving surgery."