Earlier this year, we told you about a very special documentary: Open Heart. We’re writing today because it’s playing on television for the first time, on Monday at 10:20 p.m. EST/7:20 p.m. PST on HBO. (See the HBO trailer starting at 39 seconds, above).
Part of the Skoll Foundation/Sundance Stories of Change, OPEN HEART was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short category. While it didn’t win, our staffer Sandy Herz went to the Oscars and wrote about her experience.
Open Heart is the story of eight Rwandan children who leave their families behind and embark on a life-or-death journey to receive high-risk open-heart surgery in Africa’s only free-of-charge, state-of-the-art cardiac hospital, the Salam Center run by Emergency, an Italian NGO. Their heart valves, damaged and weakened by rheumatic heart disease, which develops from untreated childhood strep throat, leave them lethargic and weak. Some of the children have only months to live.
Here is the official media advisory:
Open Heart on HBO
Oscar-nominated documentary “Open Heart” premieres on HBO and features the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery, run by EMERGENCY, on Monday, October 14th at 10:20 PM ET (7:20 PM PT)
On October 14th, HBO will premiere the Oscar-nominated documentary “Open Heart”, a powerful and touching story that follows eight children from Rwanda as they travel to Sudan to receive medical treatment for rheumatic heart disease (RHD), which develops from untreated strep throat. Far from their families and 2,500 miles from home, the children travel to the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan, Africa’s only hospital that performs high-standard cardiac surgery free of charge.
The Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery is run by EMERGENCY, an international non-profit organization founded in 1994 by the Italian war surgeon, Gino Strada and is based in Milan, Italy. In 2008, the organization established EMERGENCY USA based in San Francisco.
Although RHD is nearly non-existent among children in the US today, it continues to affect the lives of 18 million people in Africa, many of whom are children and who urgently need medical attention. Despite the fact that RHD kills 300,000 people per year, the Salam Center is the only facility in Africa that provides cardiac surgery free of charge. Funding for the Salam Center comes primarily from private donations (approximately 70%) as well as the Sudanese government (approximately 30%).
In addition to running the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan, EMERGENCY has also operated in high-risk and war-torn areas where many organizations don’t dare to enter including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and more.