EDITORIAL – Have a Heart: Giving the gift of life

It might turn out to be the Cayman Islands’ greatest contribution to the world. What could be more precious than life itself?

That’s the gift that physicians at the “Shetty hospital” are bestowing upon their youngest, poorest and most vulnerable patients — the gift of life, brought to them by local nonprofit Have a Heart Cayman Islands.

We in the newspaper business are often accused of cynicism. Though we try to remain within the bounds of healthy skepticism, that observation is not totally devoid of merit.

But even the most hard-boiled among us can’t help but be moved by the images and narratives, appearing on the front page of today’s Cayman Compass, of young children who received life-saving cardiac surgeries. The surgeries were provided free of charge, as was the transportation for the patients and their families from their home countries, and their accommodation while in Cayman.

When we read about the 104 children, from El Salvador to Haiti to Mongolia, who otherwise would not have lived, had it not been for the intervention of Have a Heart and Health City Cayman Islands, we recognize the good works of which people are capable.

“CaymanKind”? How about “HumanKind”?

And it’s all going on right here, on our speck of an island, within the walls of a healthcare facility in East End. Very seldom do we use the word “miracle,” but that’s what’s happening here.

Nevertheless, we suspect that, before looking at today’s issue of the Compass, many of our readers had little inkling of what is probably the most positive ongoing news story in the country.

A large portion of the “blame” for that may rest on the shoulders of Cayman businessman Harry Chandi, who is the chairman, founder and driving force behind the local charity. You see, Mr. Chandi’s boundless commitment to the cause is matched only by his modesty. He steadfastly shuns any spotlight that may draw attention to himself instead of the organization.

Well, too bad, Mr. Chandi — at least for this one day, you’re getting a portion of the credit you deserve.

The intertwining stories of Have a Heart and Health City go back longer than you might imagine, some 20 years ago, when Mr. Chandi, Dr. Devi Shetty and an inspiring Canadian woman named Maureen Berlin (among many others), joined forces to provide free or reduced-cost heart surgeries to children in India.

While it is remarkable that the lives of 104 children have been saved though Have a Heart Cayman — consider that Have a Heart India has saved the lives of 8,000 young boys and girls, 80 times as many.

Ask us about the benefits that Health City brings to Cayman, and we tend to answer in terms of dollars, jobs and opportunity. But at root, the true measure of Health City’s success is how many people (and particularly, how many children) were able to live, instead of dying, because of the existence of the charity and the hospital.

The developers, physicians and staff at Health City think in those terms. Certainly, Mr. Chandi and his team at Have a Heart do.

Next year, they plan to arrange for 365 or more heart surgeries for children who desperately need them. That’s one life saved every day. And that’s just the beginning of the potential good Health City and Have a Heart can do for Cayman, and the world.


Every cent raised by Have a Heart Cayman, a registered non-profit organization in the Cayman Islands, goes directly to the delivery of healthcare for children. No funds are diverted to overhead or administrative costs. To donate and for more information, visit the website: www.haveaheartcayman.com.