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City With a Heart Saves African Girls

Generous caregivers in Jacksonville have saved the lives of two teenage girls from  Uganda who were “living on borrowed time” from a congenital heart defect, Children’s Heart Project director Cindy Bonsall told the Florida Times-Union.

Both about 15, the girls were born with tetralogy of Fallot, better known as "blue baby syndrome" because it arterial blockage cuts off much of the oxygen supply.  Without surgery, most children with this syndrome die by the age of 12, Bonsall said.

Eric Ceithaml and Michael Shillingford, professors of surgery and pediatrics at University of Florida School of Medicine-Jacksonville, operated successfully earlier this week, the Times-Union reports.

Medical expenses were covered by UF Pediatric Cardiovascular Center at Jacksonville and Wolfson Children's Hospital, while Patrons of the Hearts paid for supplies and incidentals.

Ponte Vedra Beach residents Andrew and Whitney Gabet hosted the teens, their mothers and a translator.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.