Our daughter, Zia, was diagnosed with a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) when she was 2 months old. After planning to do the surgery in Nicaragua, where we live, things just weren't coming together as planned. As she approached 6 months old and her growth chart had completely plateaued we felt it was important she got the surgery sooner than later and so we started considering going out of the country for the operation. We considered doing her surgery in the US but without US health insurance it was much too expensive for us. I found a medical tourism site and proceeded to contact hospitals in Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia and Panamá.
I chose Hospital Punta Pacifica as one of my options because the were JCI accredited and are affiliated to John Hopkins Medicine International. A representative of Hospital Punta Pacifica promptly put me in contact with their Director of Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Ochoa.
I spoke with Dr. Ochoa was the by far the quickest to respond to my questions and within a day set up a time to call him so I could explain to him our daughters condition, my questions and fears. During this phone call and through our email communication afterwards he answered all of my questions quickly, thoroughly and completely. I especially appreciated that he was completely honest with me about the risks and made it clear that every child is different and every case is unique. He also speaks English fluently which greatly helped us to understand the full situation and procedure
We were happy to hear that this hospital uses the best, top of the line equipment and medical materials. Due to the great attention and communication by both the hospital and Dr. Ochoa, we chose Hospital Punta Pacifica for our daughters surgery over the multiple other doctors and hospitals we were also talking with.
We made our decision to travel to Panamá for the surgery on a Tuesday, flew there on a Thursday, Zia was admitted to the hospital on Friday and the surgery was on Saturday. . It is a beautiful hospital that rivals any great private hospital in the US.
Dr. Ochoa and the rest of their team were absolutely wonderful! They ran all the needed tests and got results right away, got her into surgery on time, we were given updates during the surgery and were able to see her just a few hours after the surgery. Her VSD which by echocardiogram appeared to only be 11mm ended up being 25mm but the surgical team was able to patch it without problems. I also was very happy to hear that Dr. Ochoa greatly believes that the mother should be with the child after surgery as other doctor or hospitals won't allow you to see your child for 24-36 hours after the surgery.
More than anything I just wanted Zia to know that we were there and we were so happy the doctors and hospital allowed us to check back on her regularly.
I greatly appreciated how quick everything happened, not only in that I felt she needed the surgery soon but it also meant that was less time we needed to spend away from home and also less time for me to worry about the surgery. The hospital staff at Hospital Punta Pacifica did a wonderful job at keeping Zia (and me) comfortable and led her through a speedy recovery.
Less than 2 weeks after the surgery Zia was cleared to fly home, just 2 days before Christmas, and she is now very healthy, happy, rapidly gaining weight and growing. We can't thank Dr. Ochoa and his team enough for everything he did for us and Zia! A healthy child was undoubtedly the best Christmas present we could ever ask for!!!