Mckenzie Bruno + Hearts With Hope

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Homework. Quizzes. Tests. All of the things that students are typically bombarded with at the beginning of the school year. But for the upperclassmen, they are also quickly reminded of Sage Creek’s student-chosen, passion project, also known as the Genius Project.  

The Genius Project encourages students to express their creativity while implementing their passions. 

For Mckenzie Bruno, a senior at Sage Creek, her journey with the Genius Project truly began this past summer. 

Photo Taken From Hearts With Hope
Natalia (14) will be undergoing heart surgery in order to fix her aortic valve malfunction. Bruno’s goal is to comfort her and assist in making the surgery a success.

“I joined Hearts with Hope over the summer. Hearts with Hope is a non-profit organization and their mission is to provide medical, dental and humanitarian assistance for children with congenital heart diseases in the underserved global community,” Bruno remarked. 

Once she joined the organization, she immediately became interested in their upcoming trip to Peru. After learning the specifics of the trip, she decided to take this opportunity in order to provide resources and support for the disadvantaged people in Peru.  

“In Peru, we will be doing a number of surgeries, both open-heart surgeries and dental work for seven days,” Bruno stated. 

Natalia, a 14-year-old girl, is one of the patients that will be receiving medical help from the surgeons and physicians. Bruno’s goal is to comfort her and assist in making the surgery a success. 

“She has an aortic valve malfunction so she is going to be getting a full replacement. I will be able to scrub in on her surgery and help her through the whole process,” Bruno shared. 

Without support from the Hearts with Hope organization, Natalia might have never been given the opportunity to receive the necessary medical care. 

“Unfortunately, they don’t have the proper supplies or the properly trained physicians to go through with these surgeries nor can her family afford it,” Bruno commented. 

In addition to the lack of available medical staff in Peru, the price of these types of surgeries is nearly unattainable. 

Photo by Harper Hughes
On October 25, Mckenzie Bruno will be traveling to Lima, Peru. Lima is a long travel – just over 4,000 miles away from Carlsbad.

“In the United States, these types of surgeries can cost up to 250 to 300 thousand dollars,” Bruno stated. 

Luckily, Hearts with Hope receives donations from large medical supply companies and the surgeons volunteer their time. Furthermore, the organization held a fundraiser at BJ’s in order to raise money for their trip. Ultimately, it was a success as many people came to support the organization’s vision as well as their plans for Peru.

“It was heartwarming to see that people were there to support me and actually cared about this,” Bruno said with a smile. 

The amazing turnout has furthered her ability to make an impact on the lives of those in Peru while advancing her own education. 

“I am hoping to learn a lot and make some great connections with the surgeons and physicians from UCLA that are going to be there,” Bruno stated. 

As her departure is nearing the corner, Bruno ensures to not take this exciting adventure for granted. 

“Not everyone gets the opportunity to live as we do and I think seeing these people and just knowing that they can’t even get the proper healthcare they need to survive will be very life-changing,” Bruno emphasized. 

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