Life-saving surgery for Felicia

Supporting a 5-year-old Compassion beneficiary in Ghana with open-heart surgery

Health & WellnessHealth & Wellness
Back to All Reports

The Need

Compassion believes that all children deserve access to comprehensive health care as a key part of their holistic development. Children represent the future of every nation, and their healthy growth and development should be a priority to everyone around them. But in Ghana, many impoverished families still can’t afford to access even the most basic health care services. Ghana’s national health insurance program operates as a one-time premium that offers lifetime coverage; however, informal workers who can’t pay this one-time premium are essentially locked out of any benefits. This is the case for most of the families Compassion serves in Ghana, who are often subsisting on informal work to survive and can’t afford the insurance fee. When a medical emergency strikes, there is little they can do to prevent the worst outcomes.

Felicia is a five-year-old Compassion beneficiary who lives in Ghana with her family. When Felicia was two years old, she began to show alarming signs of decline. Instead of running, jumping and playing like a normal and healthy toddler, Felicia lost her appetite and became very weak and feeble. She started missing major developmental milestones, and sometimes lost consciousness. After being taken to the Ankaase Methodist Hospital, she was referred to the National Cardiothoracic Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. It was there that Felicia was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of four congenital heart defects. Doctors recommended surgery to correct the defects, but her family, who doesn’t have health insurance, couldn’t afford the high medical fees. Without intervention, Felicia’s condition was likely to prove fatal. Scared and desperate, her family reached out to the church for help.

Our Response

With your support, we were able to provide Felicia with life-saving heart surgery at the National Cardiothoracic Centre in Accra, Ghana. In April 2021, Felicia underwent a pre-operative assessment to determine her readiness for surgery. At the time, it was determined that Felicia’s oxygen levels were not consistent, which could make surgery very dangerous. As a result, an amendment to this intervention was made to extend the timeline by six months. Felicia was assessed again in January 2022, when her medical team decided to give the green flag for the surgery, which took place January 21st. Based on the doctors’ final assessment of Felicia’s condition, the repair to her heart was planned to be carried out in two phases. The first phase involved inserting a Blalock-Taussig shunt into Felicia’s heart, a temporary measure that improves blood flow to the lungs in preparation for a second, corrective surgery.

After gaining consent from Felicia’s caregiver, doctors successfully performed the first surgery in January. Felicia recovered well and was discharged from the hospital just 10 days later. Felicia’s caregiver was given instructions on her medication and guidelines for her care at home.

Since her surgery, Felicia has been attending regular follow-up visits so that doctors can continue monitoring her health and determine when she is ready for the second procedure. Felicia has been able to start attending school and activities at her Compassion centre, and teachers and centre staff report that she is doing very well. Felicia’s condition is currently stable, but she will eventually undergo a second surgery to complete permanent repairs to her heart.


Surgery recovery: Felicia’s surgery at the National Cardiothoracic Centre in Accra, Ghana, was a success, and she recovered well at home. This has been a great relief to her family, her Compassion centre and the church.

Thanksgiving service: The local church held a special service to celebrate Felicia’s recovery and to thank God for protecting her.

Returning to normal: With the drastic improvement to her health, Felicia has been able to start attending school and activities at the Compassion centre. This wouldn’t have been possible without the surgery and she and her family are so grateful for your support.

Your Gift Provides...

• Transportation to the hospital for Felicia and her caregiver
• Accommodations for Felicia’s caregiver during Felicia’s hospital stay (14 days)
• Open-heart surgery (including the cost of surgery, anaesthesia, intensive care and 10-day hospital stay)
• Post-surgery nutritional support for 30 days
• Post-surgery appointments and medication (four appointments)
• Monitoring and evaluation

ReportA message from a pastor

I am delighted that Felicia’s life has been positively impacted and transformed with the completion of this intervention. Since the surgery, I have observed that she looks stronger and healthier and actively participates in activities at the centre during meetings. I must say there has been a significant improvement in her attendance at meetings. I am also glad that she now attends school like any other child so she can develop cognitively.

This intervention has benefited the church, the centre and the community at large by saving the life of a child from the community. For the family of Felicia and the community members who knew about her condition prior to the surgery, it is a joy to see the significant improvement in her physical well-being. The intervention has also made her able to live life normally as other children do. As a church and Compassion centre, this intervention has been a relief to us financially, and we are grateful to God, the donors and Compassion International for the financial support granted. It is our hope that when the second stage surgery is done by the medical team at the National Cardiothoracic Centre, the defect will be fully corrected.

Through this intervention, the child is now healthy and fully participates in activities of the centre during meetings. With this improvement, it is now easier to minister to her during sessions. I also use her situation to encourage other participants, caregivers and church members in similar situations to trust in the Lord, who is able to do all things.

On behalf the church leadership, the Compassion centre, its staff and participants, as well as Felicia and the family, I want to thank the donors and Compassion International for the financial support granted to enable her to undergo the first-stage surgery successfully. I pray for the abundant blessings of God over you in Jesus’ name.

Rev. Fr. Nat, pastor at St. Anthony's Anglican Church, Ghana

ReportA message from those your gift helped

Before my mother took me to the hospital in Accra for the surgery, I used to get sick often and I had to be taken to the hospital regularly. Due to my condition, I was always taking medicine at home. Also, I easily got tired when playing with my friends and siblings. At times, I fell down due to the tiredness. I couldn’t go to school like my friends.

Now, I am well and feel better after the surgery. I now go to school like my friends. I enjoy playing with my siblings at home and my friends at both the school and the centre because I don’t get tired easily, as I used to. I am also happy that I don’t take a lot of medicine anymore because I don’t go to the hospital often. Now that I am able to go to school, I can learn so that I will be able to help others in future.

I have learnt that there is hope for children with similar conditions to get assistance for medical intervention. I thank you for helping me. May God bless you and your families in Jesus’ name.

Felicia, a six-year-old Compassion-assisted girl in Ghana

ReportThank you for your generosity

Thanks to you, Felicia has received the first of two life-saving surgeries to repair severe congenital heart defects. We are delighted to report that Felicia has recovered well and that her condition has drastically improved since the surgery. She is healthy, active and able to play normally with other children. Felicia’s schoolteachers report she is making leaps and strides with her reading and writing skills, and she is able to participate in activities at her Compassion centre that support her holistic growth and development.

Felicia’s mother, Gifty, feels overwhelmed by your support and wants you to know how grateful she is:

“Because of my daughter’s condition, I was always worried about her,” she shares. “I had to use the little money I earn from trading to support her medical reviews and bills. Because she couldn’t do most things on her own like other children of her age, I had to always be around her to assist, which made it so difficult for me to concentrate on my trade to support the family. This was a burden for me, so I prayed to the Almighty God to intervene. Through the support of the church and Compassion International and its sponsors, God has responded to my cry. I am so happy that my daughter is healthy and able to attend meetings at the centre. She has also returned to school as expected. Now, I do not spend money on her medical bills and reviews frequently as I used to. I don’t need to be around her all the time, which has made it possible for me to concentrate on my trading activity to earn money to support the upkeep of the family. I am hopeful that my daughter has a brighter future, and I thank all the supporters for their kind contributions for making this intervention possible. It’s my prayer that the good Lord would bless them for saving the life of my daughter.”

While Felicia is yet to undergo the second surgery to repair her heart, the outlook is bright. As Felicia and her family face the future and this next phase of her journey, they know they will never walk alone. Thank you for helping save the life of this precious little girl, and for giving her family real hope.