Seven-year-old Uganda native Deborah Kisakye now has hope for a better future after being gifted her second critical open heart operation at HCA’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. Our Denver-based hospital and the entire medical team donated two heart procedures to give a young girl a chance at life.

Dr. Steven Leonard, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at RMHC, performed the first surgery in 2011 for baby Deborah, who was born with a complex congenital heart defect. After learning the medical expertise and equipment to treat her condition was limited in her country, Dr. Leonard and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children helped arrange for Deborah to come to Denver.

Deborah’s first surgery was a success and she returned to Uganda as an active toddler. It wasn’t until this past June when she underwent evaluation at the Uganda Heart Institute they discovered she would need a second operation. The work to get her back to Denver began.

Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project got involved this time and arranged for Deborah, her mother and an interpreter to travel 8,000 miles to Denver to receive the necessary care – a nearly five hour operation to relieve an obstruction of blood flow to her lungs and the body.

Dr. Leonard, pleased with Deborah’s results and her progress, discharged her from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving – just more than three weeks after her surgery. Deborah and her mother were able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving celebration with their host family in Denver.

They had much to be thankful for this year, and so did the team at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. Grateful for a smiling face, a healthy child and the opportunity to provide the gift of life.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children typically provides pro-bono care to one to two patients from Honduras each year due to ongoing mission work with Friends of Barnabas. On December 20, Deborah will return to Uganda, where she lives with her mother, father and three siblings in a small home with outdoor plumbing. The family farms bananas and coffee beans, and also keeps bees.